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Lyrics For The Loved Ones
by Anne Goodwin


Cover image of the book 'Lyrics For The Loved Ones' by author Anne GoodwinAfter half a century confined in a psychiatric hospital, Matty has moved to a care home on the Cumbrian coast.

Next year, she’ll be a hundred, and she intends to celebrate in style. Yet, before she can make the arrangements, her ‘maid’ goes missing.

Irene, a care assistant, aims to surprise Matty with a birthday visit from the child she gave up for adoption as a young woman. But, when lockdown shuts the care-home doors, all plans are put on hold.

But Matty won’t be beaten. At least not until the Black Lives Matter protests burst her bubble and buried secrets come to light.

Will she survive to a hundred? Will she see her ‘maid’ again? Will she meet her long-lost child?

Rooted in injustice, balanced with humour, this is a bittersweet story of reckoning with hidden histories in cloistered times.

Cover image of the book 'Lyrics For The Loved Ones' by author Anne Goodwin


Alternativeimage of author Anne Goodwin

Anne’s drive to understand what makes people tick led her to a career in clinical psychology. That same curiosity now powers her fiction.
Anne writes about the darkness that haunts her and is wary of artificial light. She makes stuff up to tell the truth about adversity, creating characters to care about and stories to make you think. She explores identity, mental health and social justice with compassion, humour and hope.
An award-winning short-story writer, she has published three novels and a short story collection with small independent press, ‘Inspired Quill’. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize.
​Away from her desk, Anne guides book-loving walkers through the Derbyshire landscape that inspired Charlotte Brontë’s, Jane Eyre.
Cover image of the book 'Lyrics For The Loved Ones' by author Anne Goodwin



“Matty would have stayed snug in her room with her precious belongings around her, but she hates to disappoint Oh My Darling. Whereas some maids are brassy, Oh My Darling was born to serve. Matty panders to her whims, no matter how outlandish, rewarding her docility as the Lord bestows His blessings on the meek”

Cover image of the book 'Lyrics For The Loved Ones' by author Anne Goodwin


“Her skull is a cutting room, celluloid clippings strewn across the floor. She plunges in, gathers armfuls, splices frames into a continuous strip. Things that happened meld with things that might have and things that never would. Each time, a different sequence, composed of disparate segments, creates her personal history afresh”


“There’s a simpler explanation he doesn’t want to think about. Not when he feels so rudderless himself. You’ve got to believe there’s a safety net, a limit to how far this government’s prepared to let people fall”


“Denise has no idea what it’s like to lose someone. No notion of a woman’s ties to the bairns she births. It’s fierce, that bond. You can’t clip it off like the price-tag on a new blouse. A mother’s chained for life. Even to bairns what get took away for adoption before they’ve had their first feed. Even if she never wanted them in the first place, the separation pains her. It’s nature”


“Much as they might need one. there is no saviour. Never was, never will be, but the hope of resurrection runs deep. It infects elections, producing leaders bloated with ambition but lacking in skill”


“Is it right to judge our forebears by contemporary standards?”


Cover image of the book 'Lyrics For The Loved Ones' by author Anne Goodwin


“Try to be the rainbow that colours your neighbours cloud” 

Whilst this book would work okay as a stand alone story, it might be a little more satisfying to put events into perspective and get to know who’s who, having read the previous two episodes: Stolen Summers and Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home. Lyrics For The Loved Ones, brings closure to Matilda Windsor’s long, yet almost totally institutionalised life, in an emotionally charged yet wonderfully poignant way, although some of the wider societal issues raised within its pages deliberately remain unresolved, accurately reflecting the current position today, some three years later, when Covid is behind us, but with the aftermath set to remain highly visible, prevalent and I suspect, unresolved, for many years to come.

You might need to be  aware that there are multiple trigger points for any particularly emotionally vulnerable readers, although personally I didn’t find them too troubling, as they are all part of the rich tapestry of life as we know it today and none of them took over the story in any discernible way.

Cover image of the book 'Lyrics For The Loved Ones' by author Anne Goodwin

In Cumbria, Matilda Windsor has spent her entire adult life in institutions, whether that be a mental health care facility, or care home for the elderly. In her middle years, half-hearted attempts to re-introduce her back into society, ended in distressing failure for all concerned. So now in 2019, as she approaches her one hundredth birthday, the end of her days continue to be mapped out for her by others, including the deadly Coronavirus Pandemic.

For the entire length of her isolation from the outside world, at the original instigation of a tyrannical father, (whom it transpires, had little room to espouse his pious words and actions) for no other reason than that she gave birth out of wedlock, Matilda’s new notion of reality has been shaped by imaginary conversations she has with her long departed mother, the firm belief that her carers are in fact the family maids and servants, (although her favourite, Oh My Darling (Clementine), has suddenly gone missing) and an unshakeable confidence that she once was an eminent stage performer, simply resting and awaiting her next big break.

Even as plans are being set in motion for Matilda’s big birthday extravaganza, the deadly new Coronavirus Pandemic takes its grip on the world and lockdown strikes, rendering any further organising useless. It transpires that the manager of the care home and two other members of staff are closely related, and that between them they have been busy purloining funds which the residents and their families have left in security for ongoing day-to-day personal needs, for other nefarious ‘expenses’, including PPE equipment when the official budgets dried up. One of the ‘caring’ family, decides that Matty, who had been determined to perform on a theatre stage for her party, should purchase a tablet and set up a fundraising page, by reciting poetry and skits online. This obviously attracts nationwide, if not worldwide, audiences and as a result, not only does the cash come pouring in, but down in Bristol, octogenarian Gloria, who was adopted from birth, is convinced that Matilda might be her long-lost mother. Unfortunately for Gloria, another of the ‘caring’ family and one of Matty’s favourite maids, Irene, who looked after Matty’s unmarried brother Henry until his death, has already decided that as her own birthday treat for Matty, she will reunite her with her long-lost daughter, although with nothing to help her in tracing the illusive personage, she has, with apparently no malintent, enlisted the help of another of her relatives, who conveniently lives in Spain out of physical reach, is of roughly the correct age and is willing to go along with Irene’s ruse.

Gloria did not have a particularly happy childhood and has spent her entire life assuming that her mother did not want her and had willingly given her up for adoption. The church has played a big part in her later life, with her becoming a stalwart member of the choir, although what she really sees as her one major triumph of success, is her son Timothy, who works in child psychiatric care. He has just accepted a marriage proposal from his long-term partner Brendan, a school librarian. However, life has a cruel way of throwing curved balls into the game, so Tim’s untimely medical diagnosis, together with the onset of lockdown, scuppers their wedding plans. Tim breathes a sigh of relief that, in compulsory isolation, he can at least hide his illness from his mother, but the subterfuge doesn’t sit well with Brendan, especially when he sees how Gloria struggles mentally with being confined to the house, so he engineers a situation which means that Tim has to come clean with her. Gloria is remarkably calm about the prognosis, even down to agreeing with her two favourite sons that they should en masse, break lockdown regulations and travel all the way up to Cumbria to meet Matty, before it is too late.

Despite the odds, Matty beats a bout of Covid, celebrates her birthday and gets to be, however briefly, reunited with the daughter she had never been allowed to meet all those decades ago, totally forgetting how she had been duped by the well-meaning Irene. At last she has become one of the Loved Ones. She has family.

And that’s a wrap folks, not a dry eye in the house!

Cover image of the book 'Lyrics For The Loved Ones' by author Anne Goodwin

Okay! So let’s get those potential trigger points out in the open before we go any further –

With a strong background in clinical psychology, author Anne Goodwin unashamedly, yet sympathetically, empathetically and compassionately, raises for discussion some of those often complex and difficult to deal with societal mores, which surround us in our daily lives and can result in such traumatising long-term outcomes, both physical and mental, for both the sufferers and their loved ones. Forced adoption. Psychiatric institutionalised care. The shame of a nation with the cover-up of ‘Windrush’. Black Lives Matter. Same sex marriage. The unfiltered reality of a cancer diagnosis and the impact of the Covid Pandemic on treatment and recovery. The unscrupulous behaviour of some residential care home staff, no matter how well-meaning their actions might be. The detrimental mental and physical health affects on a population under lockdown regulations. Death (often premature) and the agonising inability of family to feel solace and closure during the Covid days.

Through some wonderfully articulate, engaging and richly crafted narrative, no single one of those threads ever threatened to overwhelm this well constructed, multi-layered storyline. Hence, despite being certain that I didn’t want to read any of the inevitable ‘Covid Days’ books, what I had anticipated might be a rather intense and slightly morbid trek through 2019/2020, was actually transformed into an evocative and uplifting journey, with some periods of genuinely poignant, levity and mirth, especially when Irene decides to break the lockdown regulations in her own inimitable style and Gloria decides that a lockdown spring-clean is the way to go before she breaks all the rules!

Short chapters ensured that the transitions between the Cumbria and Bristol locations, were smooth and easy to follow, with the two separate storylines running their individual course before converging seamlessly to a satisfying closure for everyone concerned, particularly Matilda and Grace. Even though it would have by now been unlikely that Matilda would have fully comprehended all the nuances and injustices of a situation which had dominated most of her life and need never have happened, suffice that she might have finally been vindicated in her assertions all those decades ago, that she was not insane, simply heartbroken.

I approached this series with some trepidation and not a small amount of angst. However, I found myself becoming lost in a world where the characters took over from the very first page, to the final word, with me very much on the outside, looking in and eavesdropping on their lives. The atmosphere they created through their interactions and conversational, free-flowing dialogue, really lifted them off the page, made them three dimensional and brought them to life.

At first, I was a little unsure as to Anne’s thinking when she decided to single out Irene to speak in a broad Cumbrian dialect. However, it worked to perfection and definitely made her character stand out from the crowd, especially during lockdown, when she breaks the rules in a most ingenious way, which to many might seem rather strange. However, those occasions really define the essence of the story, as they highlight all too clearly Matilda’s torrid past and her relationship with her father, in a unique and totally absorbing style, whilst also offering some much needed light-hearted moments, when Irene is very lucky she is on her own and playing to a passive audience. Those moments also afforded Irene the opportunity to purge her own innermost thoughts, when many tears were shed, as it was only then that it became clear that her silence and bravado were only covering up her own inner turmoil about events which had hitherto, never been brought out into the open.

Location was never a strong factor in this final episode of the series, as I suspect it was never intended to be. Lyrics for The Loved Ones is definitely all about the story and its characters. Matty is by now, far to infirm to either leave the care home, or venture far from its doors. Similarly, Gloria and her family, are firmly entrenched in their own lives down in Bristol. For everyone, although spirits may have been lifted by the experience and the ‘knowing’, this all seems just a bit too little, a lot too late.

What typically makes reading such a wonderful experience for me, is that with each and every book, I am taken on a unique and individual journey, by some amazing authors who fire my imagination, stimulate my senses and stir my emotions. For a whole raft of personal reasons, I didn’t expect to become as lost in the pages as I did, so thank you for some truly memorable moments to treasure, Anne.

Alternativeimage of author Anne Goodwin

A complimentary download of this book for review purposes, was made available by the author.

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion, and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However, some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well-deserved 5 out of 5 stars!



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I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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  • I’ve seen books by this author on your blog before, but haven’t yet read any of them. I’m not sure if this is one that really interests me. Besides, I’d feel the need to read the earlier books.

    I’ll admit I found the idea of surprising a woman about to turn 100 with a visit from a child she’d given up for adoption years before a little concerning. That might be more exciting than a 99 year old heart could take!

    • These books could be read as stand alone stories, but they really do work much better if treated as a continuing series. Not the way I generally prefer my reading, but as I have built up a good rapport with the author, it has worked out quite well for me.

      The real injustice of Matilda’s life is summed up in the one sentence:

      “Even though it would have by now been unlikely that Matilda would have fully comprehended all the nuances and injustices of a situation which had dominated most of her life and need never have happened, suffice that she might have finally been vindicated in her assertions all those decades ago, that she was not insane, simply heartbroken”

      However, her zest for life was undeniable and I can assure you that her heart was definitely that of a lion.


      Just a quick update:-

      I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your review of ‘Murder At The Vicarage’ and I am pleased that you have finally managed to make the acquaintance of Miss Marple, she really is a character! Always reminds me a little of your own Jessica Fletcher in ‘Murder She Wrote’.

      I do enjoy a good ‘Golden Age’ mystery, I can really lose myself in the time and place.

      The days of people not locking their doors has well and truly gone over here now, and you are more than likely to get threatened if you so much as dared to trespass onto private property. I must admit that to us, when we have visited the US, the notion that we had to drive from one store to another, rather than simply walk across the car park, was a complete mystery. One time we even got pulled over by a security guard in his car, who wanted to know why we were walking around a car park!

      However, even here that is now becoming more the normal, with ever greater distances between stores and malls. I am so used to small local shopping centres with a high street containing just about everything you might conceivably need, all in one place. Ah Well! A sign of the times I guess

      I also liked your latest selection of photos, especially the pear tree blossom. Like yourselves, for us, April and May have been unseasonably cold at night times and many of the plants are late blooming (rhododendrons in particular), with some probably not going to open at all this year. But, ‘Ne’er cast a clout till May be out’ as the old English saying goes!

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      • Thanks for the extra comments here! I finally resolved my commenting issues (at others’ blogs) by unchecking a box in my security settings. Now if I could just make it work for others to comment at my blog! The newest Flora Steele arrived on my Kindle overnight. I hope to get to it in the next month or so!

        • I will check in with your blog later to see if your fix has worked for me, I do hope so 🙂 I have tried everything from this end, but to no avail. However, I see that WordPress has just done another update overnight, so fingers crossed!

          It looks as though I missed ‘Murder At Abbeymead Farm’ when it went to NetGalley and it has now been archived, so I shall have to use Amazon to get my copy. I don’t take part in Blog Tours for the publisher any more (I simply couldn’t keep up with all the deadlines), so I don’t get the advance notifications now. I see there is another book in the series due out later in the year!

          Happy Reading 🙂

  • I’ll take a look at this series at some stage because although it seems to deal with serious subjects it doesn’t come over, from your review anyway, as a depressing book. You’ll have to correct me if I’m wrong. You mention it’s a good idea to start with the first book, and I’ll do that, partly because I am a bit pedantic and if there is a beginning where someone’s story is concerned then I’ll always start there. Wonderful review, Yvonne.

    • This definitely wasn’t a depressing series at all, it’s just that it pushed quite a few trigger buttons for me. It did make me angry at times, but then there would be some joyful, happy, funny moments, which would balance things off nicely.

      Matilda is such a character you can’t help but smile at some of her antics and turn of phrases. I found myself laughing with her, but never at her.

      Whilst the books can be read as stand alone stories, I definitely feel that the three chapters of Matilda’s life, need to be read in order and as back to back as your schedule allows.

      The author definitely got inside the heads of the characters so well, whether they were the patients or the staff, but I guess that’s what comes of writing in an area you are familiar with.

      Thanks for taking time to stop by and for your kind words. We too are working on a garden project, but it is hard landscaping as a result of the subsidence issues. From tomorrow, D has a few days off to use up his outstanding holidays by the end of the month, so I need to try and get my damaged back into shape to help him, as Sunday just about finished me off!! I hope that you manage to get your planting well underway and that P and yourself are both well 🙂

  • The book sounds very complex. The topic of forced adoption is an interesting one and rather unusual.
    I would have said that there are a bit of too many topics covered, but with your 5 stars rating it means they were covered nicely.

    • Author Anne Goodwin has done an amazing job of blending the many strands of this seemingly complicated mix of topics and emotions, into one seamless storyline.

      The link between Mattie’s family and Irene, one of her carers and her late brother’s partner, is really interesting and quite sad, whilst at the same time told with some poignant bursts of humour, by Irene herself.

      You definitely get the most out of the storyline if you read all three episodes in order. Well worth 5 stars I would say!

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Written by Yvonne