The Forgotten Smile by Margaret Kennedy was first published in 1961 but it has been reprinted by Vintage.
I’ve only read one other book by Kennedy – The Ladies of Lyndon and although I liked that one I enjoyed The Forgotten Smile even more, although I found the beginning a bit strange.
Kate has been married to Douglas for donkey’s years, they are well off, live in London and their children are all grown up and have their own homes. Kate realises that she is no longer needed by them, in fact they are quite an obnoxious bunch. Despite the fact that Kate goes around walking on egg-shells to avoid their scathing comments and bad tempers they seem determined to find fault with her.
That coupled with the fact that Douglas her husband is in the throws of yet another idiotic infatuation with one of his wealthy clients makes her decide to take herself off on an Aegean cruise. As cruises go it’s a failure, badly run with terrible food, so when Kate realises that old friends and neighbours of hers are now living on one of the islands they visit, she decides to abandon the cruise and goes to stay with them on Keritha, the island they now own.
Keritha has been saved from becoming a tourist destination as its owners are determined to preserve the magic of the place and avoid spoiling it with modern things. The Greek inhabitants seem like a throw back to another ancient age.
Selwyn Potter is a young teacher who also arrives on Keritha. Kate realises that he had been a childhood acquaintance of her children who had managed to break a valuable table when he visited her house. He’s a clumsy fool and Kate is annoyed that she has to be in his company again, but eventually she understands why he is as he is and a friendship ensues.
This book is about loss, failure and tolerance of people who might seem to be different. That makes it sound a bit grim but it has moments of humour, it’s a good read, a perfect holiday or summer book. I’ll definitely be looking for more books by Margaret Kennedy.