About The Book
When Xanthi Barker’s father died when she was in her mid twenties, she could make no sense of her grief for a man who had been absent for most of her life. Her father, poet Sebastian Barker, had left Xanthi, her mother and her brother to pursue writing and a new relationship, when Xanthi was a baby. Growing up she had always struggled to reconcile his extravagant affection – a rocking horse crafted from scavenged wood, the endless stream of poems and drawings and letters, conversations that spiralled from the structure of starlight to philosophy to Bruce Springsteen – with the fact that he could not be depended upon for more everyday things. Though theirs was a relationship defined by departures, he always returned, so why should this farewell be any different, or more final?
WILL THIS HOUSE LAST FOREVER? is a heartfelt and wholly original memoir about the pain of having to come to terms with a parent’s mortality, the way grief so utterly defies logic, and about learning to see the flaws in those that we love, and let them go
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I rarely read non fiction but there was something about this book that appealed to me. My first thoughts, during the prologue was that nothing I had read previously had contained as much raw emotion as Will This House Last Forever. That feeling didn’t fade as I read more.
I don’t read a lot of poetry, I occasionally look for a certain poem if it is mentioned in a film or novel. I had never heard of Sebastian Barker. But not knowing anything about him didn’t impact on my appreciation of this novel. Instead it had me looking for more information, wanting to know more about him and his work.
This is a novel about a daughter talking to her father. She mulls over their relationship, their friendship, their disappointments and her devastation over his illness and eventual death. It all felt incredibly honest, Sebastian isn’t shown to be without faults. He had many, usually involving alcohol or his work but as Xanthi got older and started to care for him as his health deteriorated she accepted them more. But she also acknowledged that she often felt embarrassed or let down by him. She also accepted her own failings, especially with relationships, insecurities with friendship and also the problems caused by her own issues with alcohol and eating disorders.
Once I got used to all the other characters described as your wife, my brother, my mother I realised it was the only way it could be. This was just about father and daughter. Each of them could have had their own story to tell, their own memories of good times and bad.
Sebastian’s character really showed during this novel. Talented, charismatic but sometimes flawed. And his daughter loved him.