Lainy's Reviews > The Longest Farewell: James, Dementia and Me

The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet
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's review

really liked it

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 280

Publisher - Seren

Source - Review book

Blurb from back cover

Dementia crept early into the life of James Black, insidious and unannounced. The result was a long farewell to him as he changed from a happy and successful film maker into a completely dependent care home resident, and stranger to his wife Nula.

Yet after seven stressful years, Nula's life unexpectedly changed when she met a man whose wife was also a dementia patient in the home. Her friendship with John Suchet become a relationship, but theirs is a difficult road. There is joy, but also despair and guilt. Is even a moment of happiness allowed when their loves ones are in a slow decline towards death? Theirs is a story that plumbs the depths but also reaches a happiness that they thought they would never experience.

My Review

Told in first person narrative we step into Nula's world, from the very beginnings of something not being right, to diagnosis and thereafter living with her husband's descent into dementia. I have read a few books about dementia now, Suchet's is different in that this is her story, her footsteps, her life living with the devastation brought about by dementia. Written almost in diary format, Sachet writes down her experiences and shapes it together into this book, her pre, during and post dementia.

Often we hear or see dementia affecting our loved ones as they age but some people see their lives turned upside down by it coming much earlier. This is what happens with James, James is still young, fit, has a career and a very happy marriage. Nula starts to notice small things, things that can be explained away however as more incidents happen Nula can no longer ignore it. With her very honest recollections we, the reader, live each of them and walk down the road as dementia strips her husband of everything that made him him.

Often when we hear dementia we see older adults, elderly and devastating as they loose who they are, their memories, their abilities. In this book, as well as all of that we see a different side, that of a wife losing her husband, the intimacy, the suspicion from people when they see a middle age man "acting out". The struggles of simple things such as going out for a meal, trying to travel, trying to get help when she finally accepted she needed it and what she endured before she got to that stage.

The book also looks at an unlikely friendship, a kindred spirit experiencing the loss that Nula is living and the guilt that is associated. How do you experience joy, a moment for yourself, happiness, friendship without guilt when you are watching the person you love slowly lose everything about themselves. An emotive book, it makes you want to grab your loved ones and hug them hard, appreciate what you have because you never know the minute. 4.5/5 for me this time, I need to look up the book written by John, the friend she makes who is also experiencing the same loss/heartache as his wife goes through a similar journey to James.

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Reading Progress

January 13, 2020 – Started Reading
January 13, 2020 – Shelved
January 13, 2020 –
page 59
January 14, 2020 – Finished Reading

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