’Meredith, Alone’ is the debut novel by Claire Alexander.
Meredith Maggs hasn’t left her house in 1,214 days. But she insists she isn’t alone. She has her cat, Fred. Her friend Sadie visits when she can. There’s her online support group, StrengthInNumbers. She has her jigsaws, favourite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the Tesco delivery man and her treacherous memories for company. But something’s about to change. First, new friends Tom and Celeste burst into her life. Then an estranged sister she hasn’t spoken to in years.
Suddenly her carefully curated home is no longer a safe place to hide. Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door.
This book is one of the most beautiful debuts I’ve read and will certainly be featuring in my top 10 books of 2022.
The story is seen through the narrative of Meredith who after a terrible incident doesn’t leave the house. With home deliveries and the ability to work from home, she’s content with her life with her best friend Sadie and her ginger cat Fred. But one day Tom McDermott from Holding Hands befriending charity enters her life and between him and her online friend Celeste, she starts to think of life beyond her front door. But to step beyond her threshold, Meredith has to face up to her past and make amends.
The story is written in the past and present tense. The past present features Meredith as a child with her older sister Fiona who live with their mother. A cold and hard faced character who’s bitter after since the girls’ father left. She’s a complex woman and it was unsettling in parts as she had such a split personality and the girls were always on eggshells as they never knew what mood she’d be in. The past tense to the story really sets the scene to how Meredith came to staying indoors.
The story is set in Glasgow, a city I’ve visited and the author has beautifully described the streets and landscape of the city painting a vivid description. Her writing is stunning in parts and so picturesque from the four walls of Meredith’s house to the anxiety of confronting her fears. Other supporting characters such as Sadie, who’s Meredith’s best friend is a bright and vibrant character who adds a splash of colour to Meredith’s small world, whilst Meredith herself is an admirable woman, who finds comfort in jigsaws and cooking. Her life has been far from perfect, but she’s a strong, empowering woman and I fell in love with her witty personality from the first page.
This book is an absolutely gorgeous and heartwarming story that was impossible to put down. With short chapters, it was a delight to consume and with complex, relatable and fun characters, ‘Meredith, Alone’ is an inspirational story of resilience, new beginnings and friendship.
You can buy ‘Meredith, Alone’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.