Julie's Reviews > The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
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Sep 02, 09

bookshelves: bio-autobio-memoir, best-of-2009, read-2009, book-club-selection
Read in September, 2009

I read this in the solitude of a pre-dawn surrender to insomnia. What resonates in these moments immediately after turning the final page is the significance of the pre-stroke events that Bauby chose to share: the missed opportunity of winning big at the races, the trip to Lourdes, the the memory of shaving his father, the wild fabrications created by Olivier, his childhood friend and compulsive liar. Of all the events and people that populated a rich and busy life, I am reflecting on why Bauby offered these memories as a way to connect to his current physical and emotional state.

The description of the interminably long, lonely and vacant Sundays left me breathless with despair, yet this narrative is immediately followed by soaring travels around the world as Bauby's imagination takes flight from the prison of his body.

We who are able-bodied of course take for granted the wonder of the body's most simple functions. To live for a moment in Bauby's world, where the blink of an eye is a conscious effort and the only means of communication, is uncomfortable at best, devastating if we linger too long in Bauby's physical nightmare. Yet there is joy and wonder in Bauby's voice. There is also humor, wretched and wry, but full of the spirit that remains in his mind, even as his physical being is locked away.

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Comments (showing 1-4)




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message 4: by Julie (last edited Sep 01, 2009 06:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Julie This is the inaugural read of our new book club- I'm so excited to have found a group of like minded book geeks- girls only, please. First meeting, chez moi Sept 13. I'm making butternut squash lasagna and blueberry clafouti.


Elisabeth Yay! I'm so excited you've found a good book club group. I look forward to mine every month.


message 2: by Kristine (new) - added it

Kristine Yay!!

I haven't found one that makes my socks go up and down yet. Most of them seem to meet during the week during the day when I have to work.


message 1: by Nat (new)

Nat This was a wonderful movie - glad to see the book was also satisfying (not surprising since usually the book is better than the movie! ;))

Enjoy the new book club :)


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