by Peter Gilmour
Dimensions: 210 x 140 mm
Publication: 23 September 2013
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William Templeton is awoken from his dead life as an alcoholic by the murder of his mother. He has no memory of when he last visited her, and no sense of what their relationship might have been. He feels the need to reacquaint himself with the world: he stops drinking and embarks upon the long convalescence that is the story of this book. It is the story of one man’s struggle against alcoholism. It is witty and it is painful. It is a story of wasted lives, flawed relationships, and the horrors of old age, but through it all, humour and hope rebalance the drudge and misery.
Who is William Templeton?
He was once a son and a brother, a respected colleague and renowned peacekeeper. He became a husband and then a father. He was a keen birdwatcher.
Gradually, he was erased by drink.
William Templeton has become Willy, shacked up with Mrs McLehose, his malevolent landlady. Together they live in self-imposed banishment, bound together by their endless thirst and shrunken prospects. But when his mother is brutally murdered, dim fragments of William Templeton re-emerge.
Fleeing McLehose’s squalor, he takes a dead end job guarding an abandoned farm in deepest Lanarkshire. In even greater exile, Templeton realises that before he can heal first he must dry out.
Peter Gilmour’s portrait of the convalescent is immersive and unflinching. As Tempelton stumbles from one circumstance to the next, submitting to fate or fortune, we are spared few of his thoughts. The world around him is scrutinised, each relationship, whether intimate or fleeting, dissected. While William deconstructs, we begin, gently and often quite beautifully, to piece him together. From the blankness, a genuine, enduring character is revealed.
"There's a refreshingly unromantic and level-headed tone to The Convalescent. Taking control of your life and becoming a healthier and stronger individual is always promoted in sunny, positive terms, but Gilmour highlights the uncertainty and anxiety that accompanies such a struggle, accentuating the shadows as well as the light." — Alastair Mabbott, The Herald Scotland
"Those who suffer the disease of addiction and those who attempt to treat it will recognize their own experiences and learn in a different way about consequences as well as battles won.
"The re-awakening from intoxication can bring us face to face with not only our inner conflicts but those of our society. Personal, societal, even global, questions will intrude; we don't know whether our hero will stand or fall. Has he been set up to fail? This tale will strike chords not least because many more of us will reach old age than ever before." — Maria Kelly, Oxford Journal of Alcohol and Alcoholism