Top 2020 Non-Fiction Book List by Lou #Non-Fiction #2020BookList #2020

Top 2020 Non-Fiction Books

I have had the pleasure of reading some great and very interesting non-fiction books throughout 2020. I am pleased to present my top 8 non-fiction books.

The Greatest Beer Run Ever by John Donohue Click Here for More Info

Eileen – The Making of George Orwell by Sylvia Topp Click Here for More Info

Shakespearean by Robert McCrum Click Here for More Info

To Be A Gay Man by Will Young – Click Here for More Info

Crow Glen – A Spiritual Universe of An Irish Village by Marella Hoffman Click Here for More Info

A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble  Click Here for More Info

In Sat Nav We Trust by Jack Barrow Click Here for More Info

The Boy Between by Amanda Prowse and Josiah (Josh) Hartley Click Here for More Info




#Bookreview by Lou of The Boy Between by Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley @mrsamandaprowse #JosiahHartley @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours #NonFiction #NonFictionNovember #MentalHealth #BlogTour

The Boy Between
By Amanda Prowse and Josiah Hartley
Rated: 5 stars ***** 

Today I have the priviledge of closing the blog tour for The Boy Between with a review
Tender, authentic, profound, honest and incredibly emotionally insightful – The Boy Between, you can tell, is written from the heart and covers so much ground in what became a family crisis, that I am sure will connect with so many people on some level or another and what makes it unique is, this crisis in mental health is told from a mother and son’s perspective. It makes it a rounded read and one I think will perhaps benefit so many people, whether you are the person directly suffering or someone more indirectly, caring or just perhaps know someone or want to find out more.

Thank you to Kelly at Love Books Tours for inviting me to review this book.
Find out about both authors below, then the blurb and review.

About the Authors

The Boy Between Josh ProwseJosiah (Josh) Hartley lives in an isolated farmhouse in the West Country, but close enough to Bristol to enjoy its music scene. He is an animal lover and servant to two French Bulldogs. Equally happy at a music festival or watching rugby with his mates, he likes the outdoor life and with Devon only a short drive away often heads to the sea to surf and sit on the beach watching the sun go down. After a stint at the University of Southampton and another at the University of Bristol and one unsuccessful suicide attempt, Josh decided to write about his descent into mental illness and the depression that has held him in its grip for the past few years. The Boy Between carries the overriding message that things can and often do get better. It’s a book of reflection, raw, honest and full of hope: the proof being that Josh is still here and now excited about what comes next. He is ready to catch any opportunities that life throws his way, quite a thing for someone who only three years ago was living in a world gone grey, ready to disappear from the face of the earth…

The Boy Between Amanda ProwseAmanda Prowse likens her own life story to those she writes about in her books. After self-publishing her debut novel, Poppy Day, in 2011, she has gone on to author twenty-five novels and six novellas. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages and she regularly tops bestseller charts all over the world. Remaining true to her ethos, Amanda writes stories of ordinary women and their families who find their strength, courage and love tested in ways they never imagined. The most prolific female contemporary fiction writer in the UK, with a legion of loyal readers, she goes from strength to strength. Being crowned ‘queen of domestic drama’ by the Daily Mail was one of her finest moments. Amanda is a regular contributor on TV and radio but her first love is, and will always be, writing. This is her first work of non-fiction.

You can find her online at www.amandaprowse.com, on Twitter or Instagram @MrsAmandaProwse, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amandaprowsenogreaterlove.

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Blurb

Bestselling novelist Amanda Prowse knew how to resolve a fictional family crisis. But then her son came to her with a real one… 

Josiah was nineteen with the world at his feet when things changed. Without warning, the new university student’s mental health deteriorated to the point that he planned his own death. His mother, bestselling author Amanda Prowse, found herself grappling for ways to help him, with no clear sense of where that could be found. This is the book they wish had been there for them during those dark times.

Josiah’s situation is not unusual: the statistics on student mental health are terrifying. And he was not the only one suffering; his family was also hijacked by his illness, watching him struggle and fearing the day he might succeed in taking his life.

In this book, Josiah and Amanda hope to give a voice to those who suffer, and to show them that help can be found. It is Josiah’s raw, at times bleak, sometimes humorous, but always honest account of what it is like to live with depression. It is Amanda’s heart-rending account of her pain at watching him suffer, speaking from the heart about a mother’s love for her child.

For anyone with depression and anyone who loves someone with depression, Amanda and Josiah have a clear message—you are not alone, and there is hope.

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Review

No one wants to find themselves in a situation where their child becomes depressed or indeed has a mental health issue, but there is a heartfelt reminder at the start of the book that you are not alone. What Josiah and Amanda have done is bravely spoken out about how it is and how it came to be that a 19 year old boy became depressed. Hopefully one day it won’t be a brave thing to do, it just will float into natural conversation, but I use, that sometimes overrated word because mental health is still judged and still needs to be part of this type of conversation to get it even more into the public domain and in the hope that people will seek help.

It starts with a prologue as to the state in which Josh became so depressed he could have committed suicide, followed by an introduction by Amanda that shows what a hard predicament to find a household having to deal with and write it down. It’s such an honest account that they deserve kudos as they each write alternating chapters, so you as a reader can see 2 perspectives, one from Josiah who is deeply depressed and the other from Amanda who wants to save her son.
This book may resonate with some people, whether they are that person or caring for a person in similar circumstances and it also brings it more out into the public domain for a wider conversation, understanding and empathy.

The writing is absorbing because of the language that is used and you can almost feel what is being written. There is such honesty and a rawness that comes with that. It is incredibly moving and emotional and at the same time informative in a way and may well leave you just wanting to hug them.

There are some lovely tender moments when Amanda recollects when, Joshy, as she likes to call him, is very young and has the ambition of cutting grass and comes up with a rather emotionally intelligent answer as to why this and not something else. There is also, almost a bittersweetness to it. The importance of happiness also comes across.

The innermost thoughts are incredibly interesting from both Josiah and Amanda. What is fascinating and thought-provoking is some of the back-tracking Amanda does, from how her son was when he was very young to the present, in terms of his health and his personality traits and the correlations between how he was then and now, similarly as Josiah talks about his own life from the past and present. There are some uplifiting moments that just capture a different, more positive, lighter side of life that spike through times when life was quite the opposite.

It is highly responsible too that they have highlighted high profile mental health campaigns such as ‘Campaign Against Living Miserably’ and ‘Britain Get Talking’ amongst others, including Mental Health Month and then there is also MIND and The Samaritans. At the bottom of my review, I will add some contact links to people who can assist. Never find yourself alone. Within the book there is also a list of symptoms to depression. It’s all incredibly well thought out, it is about the authors lives, which I’m certain many readers will be able to relate to and also has helpful information throughout it as well, that builds for a greater understanding. It is more than lists, it is from the point of view of how it actually feels for Josiah as well. There are the challenges of school, homelife and university life. There is the mother trying to do the best she can for her son and wishing for a better outcome and then there is the offspring, going through depression and in reality they are both, in different ways, having to deal with it and live with it. It really shows how mental health issues can affect the whole family, just in different ways.

The book takes a very interesting look into universities, it could actually provide some use for people within them, for students, but a greater insight for those who are staffing them. It also shows up what is lacking within society that needs fixing, whether that was intentional or not, I do not know, but it’s certainly there, which could be very thought-provoking as a society as a whole, in how behaviours affect others. It is startling how much pressure is there, when it is actually all written down, from work/study/life balance to barely being seen as a whole human-being in places like universities and more and how it all made, in this instance, Josh feel and the impact it had.

The book also goes into an interesting look into anti-depressants, Josh’s take on them and also some of the effects he had and being in the psychiatrist’s office and also the lack of understanding from friends. This really is such an honest look into his life.

It concludes with very helpful advice for those who have depression and those who are carers/guardians/friends of those with depression that could really benefit someone in someway and are really easy to do. There is also a list of people, really famous people, who readers perhaps wouldn’t have thought, could possibly have depression because of being in the spotlight so much for their achievements. It also shows some hope and positivity for the authors futures.

Useful Links – You Are Not Alone.
The links below are of places you can go confidentiality to seek any confidential assistance you may need. I’ve added them here but please know, I would not know if you have clicked on them or not.

Mind               Samaritans

Let’s Get Published by Val Penny @valeriepenny @lovebooksgroup #LetsGetPublished #Publishing #WritingCommunity #BlogTour #CoverReveal #NonFiction

Let’s Get Published
by Val Penny

Today I am on a blog tour to reveal Bestselling Scottish Crime author Val Penny’s new book. This time, not a crime book set in Edinburgh, but a non-fiction book with the nuts and bolts of how to get published for anyone who is a budding author out there. I am excited to reveal the cover and blurb. Below you will also find info about the author and social media links.

Lets Get Published

Blurb

At last, a book that is easy to read and tells it how it is! The book was written to assist authors to maximise their success when submitting work to agents or publishers, to help authors consider their priorities and preferences for getting work into print. To advise authors on how to identify the agents and/or publishers they want to approach. It should also assist with editing their manuscript fully prior to submission. The book offers advice about how to prepare a submission package to give an author the best chance of success. The road to becoming a successful author is not easy, but it is rewarding. Let this book take you on the journey.

About the Author

Val Penny is an American author living in SW Scotland. She has two adult daughters of whom she is justly proud and lives with her husband and two cats. She has a Law degree from Edinburgh University and her MSc from Napier University. She has had many jobs including hairdresser, waitress, lawyer, banker, azalea farmer and lecturer. However, she has not yet achieved either of her childhood dreams of being a ballerina or owning a candy store. Until those dreams come true, she has turned her hand to writing poetry, short stories and novels. 

Her crime novels, ‘Hunter’s Chase’ Hunter’s Revenge, Hunter’s Force and Hunter’s Blood form the bestselling series The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries. They are set in Edinburgh, Scotland, published by Crooked Cat Books. The fifth novel in the series, Hunter’s Secret, is published by darkstroke. Her first non-fiction book, Let’s Get Published is available now.

Twitter Link     @valeriepenny

Instagram        @valerieepenny 

Feasible Planet by Ken Kroes @ken_kroes #Lovebookstour @Lovebooksgoup #Environment #EnvironmentalBook #Climate #BookBlitz #NonFiction #BlogTour

Feasible Planet
By Ken Kroes

Today I am on a quick blog tour for a book blitz. The quickest blog yet, to inform you of a new book – Feasible Planet. Check out about the author and then head on further down to the page to the blurb to find out what it’s all about. If you like Non-Fiction and are also concerned about the planet, this just could be the book for you. So, go ahead and check it out!

About The Author

Pic of ken_kroes (1)Ken Kroes is the author of the Percipience Eco-Fiction Series and the non-fiction books, Feasible Planet and Feasible Living. He is passionate about our relationship with our planet and applies his diverse background which includes agriculture, mechanical engineering and information systems into his writing. Born in Calgary, Canada he has bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and has had the pleasure of living in many locations in North America and has travelled extensively.

He can be reached on Ken@feasibleplanet.com 

Pic of Feasible Planet (1)

Blurb

Are we doing enough?

Are you concerned about the state of our planet and hope that governments and corporations will find a sustainable way for us to live? If you do not think about it too hard, that may work, but will it? Left on their own, with drivers of popularity and profits, I am not too convinced that it will.

The missing part of this equation is you and me. Individuals who believe that corporations and governments can do better. Individuals who believe that through action, we can buy a bit more time to develop and implement solutions to our critical issues.

Did I hear a groan out there when you read the word ‘actions’? Do not worry! Most of the actions that I am referring to will not only help save the planet, but will benefit you right away through saving money, time, better health, and having a happier life in general.

Sustainability goes beyond controlling our consumption and pollution. There are key social, political, and economic areas that need to be addressed as well, and there are several steps that individuals can take to help in these areas.

For those of you who feel we could do more, this book is for you and is loaded with actionable activities, the reasons for doing them, and explores why we are not doing them already.

Every journey starts with a first step. Hopefully, this book will lead to those first sustainable steps and that will change the world.

*Thanks to Kelly for inviting me to show you what this book has to offer and I hope that all my readers are well. Take care.

Love books Logo Blog Tours

 

#Review – Eileen – The Making of George Orwell by Sylvia Topp – An Insightful book of their lives and her influence. @SylviaTopps @unbounders #Eileen #GeorgeOrwell #RandomThingsTours @AnneCater #Biography #BlogTour #non-fiction

Eileen – The Making of George Orwell
By Sylvia Topp
Rated: 4 stars ****

I am very pleased to present my review about Eileen, who, I knew so little about, until now, and it turns out she is a remarkably talented woman who does deserve credit and who really was the making of George Orwell, so he became the author we all know today.

About the Author

Sylvia Topp has worked in publishing since college, starting as a copy writer on medical Eileen Sylvia Topp Author Picjournals, then moving to freelancing editing at a major literary publishing houses. She was the long-time wife and partner of Tuli Kupferberg, a Beat poet who later was a co-founder, in 1964, of the Fugs, a legendary rock and roll band. Together Sylvia and Tuli wrote, edited, and designed over thirty books and magazines, including As They Were, 1001 Ways to Live Without Working, and Yeah! magazine. Sylvia joined the staff at The Soho Weekly Newsand later The Village Voice, before finishing her publishing career at Vanity Fair. Eileen is her first book. She lives in Kingston, Ontario.

Social Media Links –

Twitter – @sylviatopp

Publisher – Unbound

Eileen Cover

Blurb

In 1934, Eileen Shaughnessy’s futuristic poem, ‘End of the Century’, 1984, was published. The next year, she would meet George Orwell, then known as Eric Blair, at a party. “Now that is the kind of girl I would like to marry!” he remarked that night. Years later, Orwell would name his greatest work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, in homage to the memory of Eileen, the woman who shaped his life and his art in way that have never been acknowledged by history, until now.

From the time they spent in a tiny village tending goats and chickens, through the Spanish Civil War, to the couple’s narrow escape from the destruction of their London flat during a German bombing raid, and their adoption of their baby boy, Eileen is the first account of the Blair’s nine year marriage. It is also a vivid picture of bohemianism, political engagement, and sexual freedom in the 1930s and ’40s.

Through impressive depth of research, illustrated throughout with photos and images from the time, this captivating and inspiring biography offers a completely new perspective on Orwell himself, and most importantly tells the life story of an exceptional woman who has been unjustly overlooked.

Review

Eileen! Who on earth was Eileen in relation to George Orwell’s work? It is true to say, not much seems to be known about her, until now. This book will tell you who she was. This is a book that offers a completely new perspective on George Orwell and is insightful about his wife – Eileen.
Eileen was much more to George Orwell than just his wife. The book shows a rounded character build-up, so a real sense of her life and personality really does come through. It really is absolutely fascinating, especially since so little was known and yet she had such a positive influence on George Orwell’s life. I get the sense that a lot of research has been put into this book and not all of it, easily found. Eileen, at times seems a woman of complete mystery and other routes have to be taken to discover more about her, and other times, there are letters right there, about her life. There are great photos of the key people mentioned, placed in the middle of the book. There are letters and archive materials scanned into the book too. I love that this book is, built on research that is actually supported by the Orwell Estate and Orwell Society. Recent biographers of George Orwell seem to laud this book. 

So, why write a book about Eileen, the woman who would become George Orwell’s wife? Readers will partially find out in the very interesting foreword, expertly written by Peter Davison who is the editor of The Complete Works of George Orwell and will certainly know much more about her by the end. The book also debunks some myths about George Orwell being a self-made man. Eileen has to be able to have credit to what she did and this book sets out to give her recognition. She was much more than a wife to George Orwell, it would seem. She was a woman who did a lot and achieved a lot in her life and helped shape George Orwell to be the successful man he became.

The book takes readers right back to archived material and research conducted on her ancestry and then moves onto her school days in South Shields and how nowadays there is memorabilia from the school is now scattered around the world. It is interesting having a look at her school reports and also a poem she wrote.

The book, interestingly gives an insight into what people thought of George Orwell and whether he was suitable marriage material or not and the marriage itself and the problems and expectations.

It is known that Orwell went to Catalonia and as well as addressing what he was doing there, readers will also see some of the extent of her work in their cottage, in helping Orwell on the road to becoming the author he became. What comes across is that she was a hard worker and also seemed quite devoted  to Orwell and did a lot, including making expensive and stressful trips to visit him in a sanatorium when he was terribly unwell.

Apart from having a positive effect on Orwell’s writing; Eileen typed and she also got review copies of books organised from his publisher. She comes across as being very supportive of him and his work. She also wanted him to be healthy after so much illness and tried to find a better home than the cottage to live in. I felt the writing gave her justice and her personality comes through.

The book moves on to a time in Morocco. There’s a real sense of what Morocco was like then and the experience they had. With secret letters to another for a time, I felt sorry for her and with all the sacrifices she was making. There does, however seem to be happier and better periods in their marriage, before and after this. It’s like they were bound together some way, no matter all their troubles and strife. It’s certainly interesting reading about what sort of marriage they had. 

It is interesting reading about what Eileen may have done to support the war effort and she seems to be a woman with substantial connections to important people and how she seemed to be becoming successful in her own-right, but even then, there is still a bit of bleakness and hardship to live through. I figure that there must be quite some strength of character in Eileen.

It is then, so interesting to see what influenced George Orwell to write both 1984 and Animal Farm and reading about his other works. It is equally interesting to read about how Animal Farm could have been such a different piece and perhaps, not quite so cleverly written or indeed in story form, if it was not for the influence of the extraordinary Eileen, who was also, it would seem, talented in her own right. Her influence on Orwell’s work, especially Animal Farm is hugely significant and I certainly had not realised until reading this book, for that to be the case.

The book has an epilogue about what happened at the end of Eileen’s life and what happened next. There are also eloquent letters she wrote. It is worth pointing out that after the index, there are lists upon lists of people’s names who have supported this book.

By the time you’ve finished this book, you will have learnt a lot and you will see why this book had to be written and why Eileen deserves recognition, I certainly think she does. This book is definitely worthwhile reading.

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Review of The Longest Farewell – James, Dementia and Me by Nula Suchet – Rated 5 stars @nulasuchet @johnsuchet1 @SerenBooks @LoveBooksTours @David_Suchet #TheLongestFarewell #BlogTour #Review #dementia #nonfiction #review #health

The Longest Farewell
By Nula Suchet
Rated: 5 stars *****

Nula Suchet Blog Tour poster.jpg

It gives me great pleasure to be closing Nula Suchet’s blog tour with my review, that was arranged by Kelley at Love Books Group. I first came across Nula Suchet’s book in the summer of 2019 and I am so pleased a blog tour has now occurred. This is one of the most heart-breaking non-fiction books, but it is also one of the most important. It also has the most wonderful happy moments within it. This book is worth investing the time in reading it. I highly recommend this absorbing, all-encompassing book that you may feel every emotion from.

 

About the Author

Nula Suchet picNula Suchet was born in Ireland, part of a large family. After a difficult early life she became an interior designer who worked internationally in the UK, Europe and the US. Now retired, she lives in London with her husband, the broadcaster John Suchet, who she met in the care home where their spouses were being cared for with dementia. Her book, The Longest Farewell, on dealing with her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak that came with it is available now.

Blurb

When Nula’s husband James, a British documentary filmmaker, becomes forgetful they put it down to the stress of his work. But his behavior becomes more erratic and inexplicable, and he is eventually diagnosed as suffering from Picks Disease, an early onset and aggressive form of dementia. Suddenly their lives change from comfortable middle-class creatives through inexplicable behaviour, the shock of diagnosis, coping with the ongoing illness, not coping with the illness, to the indignities of care home life. The Longest Farewell is a moving description of James utter mental and physical deterioration, and the effect that it had both on him and on the people from whom he was involuntarily retreating, particularly Nula. Her life is completely taken over by James illness: her frustration at trying to cope, her guilt at having to hand over his care to professionals in England, are just part of her at times harrowing story.

With James in care and left with seemingly little to do but wait for his death, Nula meets Bonnie, another resident at the care home suffering from the same condition. In turn she meets Bonnie’s husband, the broadcaster John Suchet and the similarity of their positions becomes a bond between them. After the deaths of James and Bonnie, and some guilt-induced false starts, Nula’s story takes a bitter-sweet turn: they become partners, and eventually marry. The Longest Farewell is a heartfelt yet inspiring account of dealing with dementia, and of unexpectedly finding a happy ending.

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Review

Brave, devastatingly emotional, moving, heartbreaking, thought-provoking and yet there’s so much love in the Longest Farewell and ultimately, such a special kind of happiness.

I am pleased and privileged to review The Longest Farewell by Nula Suchet. It is with great thanks to her for agreeing to allow me to review her book. I also thank her for arranging with her publisher to send me a hardback copy.

Nula Suchet chronicled her life in the hope that anyone whose life is blighted with dementia can know that the tunnel they feel enclosed by need never be totally closed. The book is 182 pages and every word is evidently written from the heart. There is so much in this book to capture, so please bear with me.

At only fifty-seven years old, Nula’s husband was diagnosed with Picks disease – a rare form of dementia. This is an important book. It really shows that dementia really does not choose age or class or creed. It is a cruel disease at any age, but particularly to someone who was in his prime to then suddenly not be. There’s so much heartbreak when reading this book. Any reader, I am sure would feel it. This book is brave and must have taken a lot of courage to write as memories of a life since past, come to the fore once more in such a way, in order to write this brilliant book. The book begins with there just not being something quite right about James. The worry is there in the writing as is the fact that it perhaps makes more sense to put the new behaviours James is expressing, down to stress.

There is a strong glimpse into what life for James used to be like pre-dementia. I like that we are treated to the type of man he was and what he did. He had a strong place in the world, he created scripts for documentaries and wrote screenplays and worked very hard and over many hours. There seems to be a real sense of vibrancy and intelligence about James, even when there’s a bit about him meeting with a producer and normally he talks a lot about various ideas, when instead, there is a silence, that would by now, seem, to any reader as being unusual for James. There was an energy and enthusiasm in his work that was all of a sudden whisked away, leaving the love of his life wondering what to do. Nula writes unambiguously, throughout, including the emotions, the striking behaviours in James and Nula’s understandable initial denial that it could be anything other than stress or lots of time writing alone. There is a deep sense that every single sentence written is incredibly heart-felt and I believe other readers will feel this in their hearts too as I do in mine. There’s the feeling of anger too about what the Picks disease is doing to James. Everyone reacts differently and until dementia happens, you cannot fully really know how you will react, let’s just say, it is a familiar reaction. In amongst all of the different emotions and the having to deal with it, I like that Nula Suchet shows an air of determination to still to try to live life to the fullest with James, doing the things they used to enjoy together. There is however, such a bitter-sweetness. Nula Suchet writes about some wonderful memories, that seem so happy and full of love. There is such a determination to care for James. How hard this is isn’t sugar-coated as bit by bit it is there for all readers to see, but ultimately dementia is sadly taking over and behaviours, caused by Picks. Even before the chapter called Isolation, there’s a sense of it creeping stealthily and unwelcomingly in and life as they once knew it coming to a halt. Nula also has to give up working on her interior design business too. The writing is so amazingly strong, every aspect of the book is absorbing and all consuming in a good way because every emotion can practically be felt and empathised and sympathised with. I know this is a book that I will read more than once. I realised that before I even reached the end.

When Nula Suchet says about their being a comfort that she finally found a “good home” that did activities with their residents, even I feel gladness of that, because very unfortunately that isn’t always the case, as is pointed out in the book. Not that this makes anything any easier, not really, as travelling to the care home also is another emotional challenge of sadness as that feeling of guilt takes hold and lingers. The phrases used could not be put any better to describe that situation of struggle, anguish and the sheer depths of despair she goes to. Not one bit of it could be easy to have re-lived at all.

It is so interesting and thoughtful that other residents are remembered from Nula’s visits to see James and what I think readers, who perhaps don’t need to make visits to a care home will find is how different the residents all behave that she describes, as well as the feelings and vocal demands of James too.

The book then naturally merges into John Suchet’s life too as he and Nula meet and it is touching as she also gets to know Bonnie in the care home.
John Suchet is a broadcaster, currently on  the radio channel Classic FM.
It reads a little bit differently from what went prior. There are correspondences between Nula and John, which contain warmth, care and attention.

There are similarities in emotions felt and the emotionally charged writing, for he too is losing Bonnie – the love of his life all too early with the cruelty of dementia.  There are some parallels between their lives as a strong connection starts to build between them, such as John and Bonnie also travelled together whilst he worked – researching for his books. The connection builds into friendship and more and this is beautiful to read about as there is a clear hope and glimmer of happiness and being able to re-discover all the things they both enjoy and together. There are however a few times of understandable tentativeness at first and a challenging holiday in Greece together, which is written so well and with also recalling her own upbringing, which was so different from John’s. Hers, one of more turmoil and heartbreak, compared to John’s seemingly more perfect life. There is some comfort to be found in her insecurities as she asks calls “girly questions” due to insecurities. It is something many females will relate to, I am sure, but also the self-protection both males and females I am sure will relate to some degree. There are other trips where there are memories of James and the sadness that comes with it. There’s also more feelings of guilt and the pain of not being able to have a  coherent discussion with James about what she had been doing.

The further deterioration in both Bonnie and James and the medical issues and palliative care is not shied away from. It is told how it was for them. Poignantly there is a shared “list of nevers”, which is things they will never be able to do again.  It is by this time at its starkest yet as is the fact that dementia never leaves those who actually have it, but also others, like John and Nula, no matter what else is done in life.

Nula goes into some detail about the further deterioration of James and how it affects her relationship with John, who is also seeing this in Bonnie and is trying to cope with his own emotions, has to be given credit for being so incredibly patient and for showing such care and realising they need each other, even when emotion is trying to get the better of Nula and is trying to pull the relationship apart and almost forever, even after the funerals of James and Bonnie, which is chronicled with such respect. I found myself thinking thank goodness that Nula’s computer needed fixed and they were going to an expert together and she still agreed. Through all the devastation Nula and John lived through together, there is so much love and the ending is one that nearly was not, but my goodness I am glad it is just the best ending or perhaps best ever continuation of their lives may be more appropriate, for two people who have lived through so much and now bravely shared so much to the world.

There’s so much pain and guilt that is so understandable and deserves compassion. What is perhaps not actually said, is still there in-between the lines because this is actually an incredibly well-written book and written from the heart.

There are two sections of wonderful, meaningful photos that are excellently placed within the book. The first section, depicting happier times of James and Nula and they are so full of joy and life and yet there is a sadness because these are memories now of his work and of other life’s adventures they did together.  There’s also some other family photos too that are interesting to see. The second set shows James and Bonnie years into dementia and what it was doing to them, and yet they are so poignantly remembered through these photos. They are so tastefully done and with sensitivity. There are also photos of happier times again of Nula and John together, which are so heartwarming and they really do look so happy together. Each photo has its place. They seem so carefully chosen and go with the text before and after them. Every single expression looks so genuine.

I do also recommend reading the very important postscript. It highlights further the need for greater awareness and compassion for those with dementia. It isn’t just those who actually have this devastating disease that has still no cure to, it is everyone around that person. It highlights that care needs to be better and more research and more expertise needs to be put into it and that care, although can be good in some places of the UK, it isn’t always good around the UK. There’s acknowledgement of the greatest campaign’s so far, such as Line of Duty actress Vicky McClure’s Dementia Choir, hosted in Nottingham and Formula One champion Jackie Stewart launching a fund for research.

I have never read a book quite like The Longest Farewell before. The Longest Farewell is an important and timeless book in raising awareness of what Dementia can do and how it affects everyone’s lives and not just the person who is suffering from it. It also raises awareness of the inequalities in the care for dementia patients. There also is a need for more compassion towards people with dementia and their affected families around them.
For some, perhaps the book may also provide comfort and hope for those who are carers or are visiting their loved ones in a care-home that they aren’t alone.

It is also kind that Nula mentions that John also has a book called My Bonnie, documenting his dispair and loneliness about losing Bonnie to dementia. He also writes books about different classical composers in his fascinating Man Revealed series.

 

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