I'd heard good things from this book, from an acclaimed author I had never even heard of who bears a small resemblance to Joni Mitchell and Sissy Spac I'd heard good things from this book, from an acclaimed author I had never even heard of who bears a small resemblance to Joni Mitchell and Sissy Spacek. This is all, of course, inconsequential.
I picked this book up when I was running away from my then boyfriend and on a midnight plane to Dublin. It wasn't until three weeks later, whilst in London, that I started it. I find this all very important because it gives me a feel for what is written in the book that sort of reflected what was going on in my life at the time. I had not lost a husband but there were certainly changes going on in my life. This is an important aspect to consider, that we can feel grief in other ways besides death, that loneliness is there at any possible time and that our life shapes and moves forward in various ways.
The entire book is a meditation on death, dying, relationships, family and change. One night, Joan and her husband are about to sit down to dinner. Their daughter is very ill in hospital. When very suddenly, Joan's husband has a fatal heart attack.
The rest of a book is a musing on their relationship together, what it feels like to be a widow and have a life without a life-long companion. What death means, especially sudden death. There are pieces on travelling, famil, love, motherhood. There are even fragments about what it means to be a writer, how you cope with grief as a writer, what do you do when the emotional level is so high you cannot even bring yourself to write.
It is a wonderful slim volume written in a direct and crisp prose that I recommend highly to read alone. I don't see it as a holiday book to read beside the beach, or something to read whilst anyone is talking. Each word and feeling must be savoured. Read it in the middle of the night or the early morning, with the window open to hear the slow hum of the night-time, with a good strong mug of coffee whilst you're curled up on the sofa or in bed.
It's the kind of book that will leave you feeling beaten up afterwards, amidst the direct formation of words there are many great ideas and cutting emotions, just make sure you have the emotional energy for it....more