Tag Archives: The Comfort Of Others

Van has finished reading… The Comfort Of Others by Kay Langdale

26 Apr

Quiet books. There’s something settling about quiet books, something soothing. Despite the events that unfold in Kay Langdale’s The Comfort Of Others, that sense of quietness, that control is there. In Minnie’s case there’s a distance in the telling – not from the character as I felt closer to Minnie in the reading than I did to Max – that enhances that quietness. And that in turn tightens the focus of events and emotions. The compounding of injustice, of what happened and of the response to it, and then the years of living with it are palpable in the stark present tense rendering of Minnie’s recollection. It’s really nicely done.

I particularly liked the mirroring between Max and Minnie. Whether reflecting similarities or differences in their situations, whether as obvious as recognising their shared activity as they sit by their windows, or a more obscure drawing of parallels between family situations, those moments serve to tie the characters together well. The writing is nice and clean, never overworked, and the particular attention to all those non-verbal signals in both Max and Minnie’s stories is nicely underplayed, never explaining them but leaving the reader to make that leap of understanding. It serves to make the scenes quite visual too. I could easily see this story making the leap to television (in which case Clara at the piano, both times: not a dry eye in the house).

The characterisation is solid. I’d be surprised if anyone came out of this book liking the wrong people – even in a grudging sort good-to-be-bad kind of way. Of the two main characters it’s Minnie who shines for me. With Max at a transitional age he often feels older than his years, which is of course right for him but makes him a little harder to pin down. With Minnie it’s her sensitivity that appeals to me, the way she delicately takes matters in hand, distracts and then refocuses. When difficult times come, everyone should have a Minnie on hand with a Tazza to allow that space to breathe and look at something beautiful.

Are quiet books good for holiday reading? I never know. Reading is reading to me but if they are the Kay Langdale’s The Comfort Of Others is worth adding to your holiday list. If not, add it to your post-holiday reading list.


The Comfort Of Others was published in paperback on the 6th April 2017 by Hodder & Stoughton ISBN:9781473618428

You can find Kay on Twitter @kaylangdale or at her website kaylangdale.com


My thanks to Karen Geary at Hodder for allowing me to review this book.