Maggie Carter knows Victoria Park like the back of her hand. She knows which routes around the park are easiest to navigate; she knows what time of year the most beautiful flowers bloom; and she knows which bench by the pond allows you to hear the joyful chatter of children throwing bread to the ducks without risking getting splashed by over-enthusiastic flapping. But she’s never seen any of these things. Maggie is blind: her senses of touch, smell and hearing have built an image of the place she loves most in the world, and she’s never felt held back by her unseeing eyes. And yet, newly married and expecting her first baby, Maggie has suddenly started to doubt her ability to cope.
Elsie is also expecting her first child, but unmarried, alone and without the support of her family, she’s terrified her baby will be taken away. When Maggie meets Elsie one day in the park she tries to comfort this distressed young woman – but all is not as it seems. Because Elsie lost her baby sixty years earlier, and now, suffering from the first stages of Alzheimer’s, she can’t stop re-living the most traumatic event in her life.
Where I Found You is the story of Maggie, a visually impaired young woman expecting her first child, who meets another pregnant woman while sitting on a park bench one day. Elsa appears to be unmarried and is terrified her baby will be taken away from her so Maggie tries her best to soothe the young woman but it only seems to make things worse. However, all is not as it seems, as Maggie eventually discovers Elsa is actually an elderly woman in her eighties who is suffering from Alzheimers and flashing back to a traumatic time in her past.
I was slightly confused as to why Maggie couldn’t tell Elsa was an elderly lady from the beginning since she is so good at reading those around her, however Maggie was a little preoccupied with her own thoughts at the time so it is easy to overlook. I love how Brooke uses Maggie’s other senses to describe how she ‘sees’ the world around her, and her use of aromatherapy and other scents to provoke colours is just wonderful.
Maggie is an exceptional character and I loved how she refused to let people dismiss her because of her disability, however she isn’t portrayed as a superwoman who can do everything and her confidence takes a severe beating when she begins to doubt whether she is capable of coping with a baby. Maggie’s fears are explored realistically and while her mother-in-law seems to be in the role of chief opponent, Judith’s worries are sensible ones even if they are rooted in ignorance.
Maggie also has a stubborn streak which is shown by her refusal to stay out of Elsa’s life, even if her constant probing brings long buried secrets to the surface. Maggie’s intentions are always good but it did start to annoy me that she always felt she knew better than anyone else and often put her research before the health of her unborn baby.
Maggie is surrounded by a host of colourful characters who all play their part admirably. It was a little harder to get to know Elsa, mainly because she kept slipping away in her mind to other times, but the losses the young Elsa suffers are heartbreaking. Brooke handles the subject of Alzheimers with great sensitivity and I’m sure I’m not the only one who will go into this book having witnessed the disease’s devastating effects on a loved one.
As always, Brooke manages to wring out every drop of emotion in her writing and when Elsa is finally reunited with her daughter, I was tearing up so badly, I could barely read the words.