Gratitude: Powerful portrait of old age resonates long after reading

Book review: Beating heart of Delphine de Vigan’s novel is empathy it shows for process of ageing

In her new novel, Delphine De Vigan captures with great sensitivity the transformation that occurs in a relationship when a child becomes the carer of their parent. Photograph: Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images

In her new novel, Delphine De Vigan captures with great sensitivity the transformation that occurs in a relationship when a child becomes the carer of their parent. Photograph: Leonardo Cendamo/Getty Images

“Have you ever wondered how many times in your life you’ve really said thank you? A genuine thank you. Expressed your gratitude, your recognition, your debt? And to whom?”

Delphine de Vigan’s sixth novel is a slim but powerful meditation on the nature of gratitude: in the midst of countless automatic expressions of thanks, how do we express a deep and true gratitude to those whom we owe the most? To life itself? Are we cognisant of the liberation that comes with offering gratitude where it is due? And the torment that comes with leaving it too late?

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