Publisher: Faber and Faber Ltd
Release date: 20 January 2022
Back cover blurb: It is October 1966 and William Lavery is having the night of his life at his first black-tie do. But, as the evening unfolds, news hits of a landslide at a coal mine. It has buried a school: Aberfan. William decides he must act, so he stands and volunteers to attend. It will be his first job as an embalmer, and it will be one he never forgets. His work that night will force him to think about the little boy he was, and the losses he has worked so hard to forget. But compassion can have surprising consequences, because - as William discovers - giving so much to others can sometimes help us heal ourselves.
A Terrible Kindness is a beautifully written novel about love, loss, grief and everything in-between.
William is a newly qualified embalmer, following in his Uncle and Late Father's footsteps, when the function he is at is interrupted, asking for volunteers to help at Aberfan. He is having the time of his life, at his first black-tie function alongside Gloria who he is in love with - but hasn't told yet.
It's October 1966, and Aberfan primary school has just been buried following the catastrophic collapse of colliery spoil tip no 7. The village is in shock, it's children dead or missing.
William's job at first is to help identify the victims by extracting their clothing and then holding the item aloft where the parents of the missing are gathered, waiting for someone to claim the garment and their child.
He quickly moves on to what he knows best, embalming. The work is relentless, so many bodies to get through, and the work becomes harder, the victims more gravely injured as time goes on. William thinks little of it at the time, he is there to do a job, a job he excels at.
It isn't until he returns home that he realises his life may never be the same again. Still young himself, the Aberfan disaster forces William to think about his troubled past and consider events that he has tried hard to forget, as he tries to look toward the future and whatever that may hold.
This is a superb debut, and I can't wait to see what this author does next!
A Terrible Kindness is available from 20 January 2022 via Amazon and all good book shops.
Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.