All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Love That Remains by Susan Francis

on February 6, 2020

The Love That Remains
Susan Francis
Allen & Unwin
2020, 240p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

After twenty years spent searching for her biological parents, 52 year old Susan Hull unexpectedly meets the great love of her life – a gold miner named Wayne Francis. He is a gentle giant of a man, who promises Susan the world.

Two years later they throw in their jobs, marry and sell everything they own, embarking on an incredible adventure, to start a new life in the romantic city of Granada, where they learn Spanish and enjoy too much tapas. In love, and enthralled by the splendour of a European springtime, the pair treasure every moment together.

Until a shocking series of events alters everything.

Susan Francis’ memoir is riveting and remarkably honest and Susan Duncan said it was fearless and raw and an amazing read.

One of my reading goals this year was to add more non-fiction into my reading. I did read quite a bit last year and found a lot of books that I enjoyed so this year I wanted to broaden my horizons even more. And one of those reading ‘wants’ that I had, was to read more memoirs of everyday ordinary people, not celebrities or sportspeople or someone that was famous for being in a reality show. In this book, Australian woman Susan met the love of her life in her 50s, a miner named Wayne. He supported her whilst she searched out her biological parents, having been adopted as a baby in Newcastle. And after Susan had her somewhat unsatisfactory answers, they threw in their jobs and went to live overseas. They lived in Spain and made various forays to other countries, exploring places like Croatia and Portugal. Whilst in Portugal, the unthinkable happened and Susan found herself alone and faced with the unenviable task of repatriating her husband’s remains back to Australia.

This was a really interesting story. Susan herself is a very interesting woman – she’s frank about the fact that she’s been divorced several times and the baggage of being adopted. She’s the sort of person that wants answers, even if it’s just some medical history, especially as her adoptive mother has been ill with Alzheimers for some time. The sort of information about things that potentially are genetic is important but Susan doesn’t find much from her biological parents – her mother is clearly hiding something and wants Susan gone as quickly as possible and her father operates under a false name with the sort of manner that makes her uncomfortable. I think Susan realises that the information she has is about as good as she’s going to get and perhaps it’s time to do as Wayne says and put the past behind her and live in the moment.

Their European life seems ideal – a beautiful but snug home on a steep hill, drinks and tapas at local bars, being close enough to hop to other countries whenever the mood takes them, which is something we definitely lack here in Australia. However there are several incidences with Wayne that cause Susan some pause before the tragic event happens. After that, Susan is confronted with information about him that makes her wonder if she ever really knew him at all. And so she undertakes a journey that is both a quest for the truth and a way to lay everything to rest.

I found myself admiring Susan and her quiet determination quite a lot at several points during this story. She faces a lot of disappointments from her biological parents but she keeps persevering, even though she’s never going to be satisfied with the outcome. She’s obviously kept putting herself out there for relationships too and it seems to pay off when she finds Wayne and the two of them seem to be very likeminded souls. He’s happy to accompany her on trips to gather information about her birth parents, even if I don’t think he really understand the need she has for this. They seem to enjoy similar things, want the same lifestyle as they move through their 50s. Travel is obviously a high priority for them and they immerse themselves in Spanish culture, learning the language and trying to understand the people.

Even when Susan is grieving, she shows a lot of strength. What happens to her is quite devastating and where it happens just makes everything so much more difficult. And then a cousin of Wayne’s makes some cryptic comments that lead her to discover something about him that she never knew, something that is incredibly shocking. It doesn’t gel with the man she knew and so she is determined to find out the truth, by which she has to undertake a journey travelling to a country where she has to hire private security. I think that she was so desperate for the answers that would shape how she felt about Wayne that she would’ve been willing to do anything in order to get them.

I really enjoyed this – I thought it was well told and that the author gave a very good picture of her life, the ups and the downs. I loved the portrayal of her friendship with the girls she’d gone to school with and how that had changed when one of them passed away as well as her relationship with her ill adoptive mother and also her brother. It wasn’t just about Wayne and the lives together, it was about her life as a whole and everything that had shaped it.

8/10

Book #17 of 2020

I’m counting this read towards my participation in the 2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge, ticking off the first prompt, Memoir. It’s the 2nd book I’ve completed so far.

It also counts towards my Australian Women Writers Challenge and is book #6 of that challenge.


2 responses to “Review: The Love That Remains by Susan Francis

  1. Great review, this sounds like an affecting memoir

  2. Marg says:

    I don’t read many memoirs but this sounds interesting!

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