Author: Rachel K Parsonage
Kindle Edition published February 2021
Category: Contemporary Fiction, Medical, Child Abuse, Book Review
On the 23rd March 2020, the UK went into lockdown due to the pandemic threat of COVID-19. After experiencing back problems, Dave Williams has exchanged working as a builder for a job as a porter in a local hospital. Dave is enjoying his job. He has lived a happy life for the past thirty years with his wife and family. His childhood, however, was not so happy. Dave suddenly finds himself confronted with the demons of his past – he and his brother Ken were in care in the eighties, subject to a system unfit for purpose. When faced with the main perpetrator of the harm caused to them, Dave, unrecognisable in his protective equipment, finds revenge easy to execute.
We first meet Dave as he goes about his job as a hospital porter just as the world begins to face the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Initially he seems an unlikeable character, but then we’re transported back to 1977 when Dave and his brother Ken lived with their abusive mother.
One night their father turned up after a stint in prison. The two boys were in bed, listening to the escalating argument downstairs between their parents, until a scream and the slam of the front door morphed into a dreadful silence. After a while Ken crept downstairs, but didn’t come back. Dave eventually fell asleep and was woken by a policeman.
Dave and Ken were taken to their nan’s house and life became much better and the boys were happy, until the day the ambulance came.
So matter-of-fact. Dave stared up at him in shock; Ken raised his eyebrows knowingly. Nobody had ever told Dave what had happened to his mum, or where his dad had gone. Every time he asked his nan, she didn’t reply. Ken wouldn’t talk about it. Now it all made sense! The ambulance man stared at them with sadness and pity.
The brothers’ formative and teenage years were shocking, affecting and influencing their lives in completely different ways. Dave eventually manages to control his lingering worries and fears, until his job as a hospital porter brings him back into contact with someone from his past. That’s when the deep rooted, traumatic memories he’s tried to suppress over the years come flooding back, and he begins to plot his revenge.
This is a gritty tale involving child abuse (not graphic), the care home system and revenge. A good plot with a strong theme.
The author, a GP from Wales, states that although a good part of the book is set during lockdown that isn’t the primary storyline. It’s a character driven story, but lives might have taken a different turn had it not been for the pandemic. Her medical knowledge is evident.
I chose to read and review The Porter based on a copy of the book kindly supplied by the author.
Rachel K Parsonage lives near Wrexham in North Wales with her family. She works for the NHS.
Mainly to keep sane and inspired by the pandemic, the ‘Lockdown Series’ is a fictional series about NHS keyworkers working through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rachel can be found on Facebook