June 30th 2016 was the 50th anniversary of detective novelist Margery Allingham's death. The last book she completed before she died was The Relay, reflections on the care of the elderly -- specifically her mother, aunt and elderly cousin.
It has never previously been published but here it is interwoven with reflections on dementia care now. Julia Jones's mother has this difficult illness and Julia finds Margery's words offer insight and strength in her attempts to care whilst also maintaining her own life and interests.
Novelist and campaigner Nicci Gerrard has read an advance copy, this is what she says:
"How do we care for and how do we think about people we love as they grow old and frail, perhaps become demented or changed from the self they used to be? And how do we care for and think about ourselves, as we look after those who once looked after us? In Beloved Old Age, Julia Jones looks at the issue of old age with extraordinary lucidity, both close-up and intimate and at the same time, clear-sighted and dispassionate. She manages to make Margaret Allingham into her partner: the dead writer and the living one pass the baton to each other, connecting generations, sharing sore truths. Julia Jones is unsparingly honest but never unkind, tender without ever being sentimental. She creates a patient space for all the turbulent, ragged emotions she has felt as her mother's carer and finds amongst the exhaustion and distress, times of illumination and a kind of gladness. To be a carer is not just a duty but a difficult gift. This slim, careful, beautifully-written book is a shining example of writing that can change the way we think."
Joan Bakewell commented "I'm delighted by this book. It has wit and humour as well as generous understanding."