... easy to read and written in plain English. It is an enjoyable read despite the seriousness of the topic as throughout the book it intertwines accounts of their past journeys together through Africa and Asia, and of Francesco's interests and talents.
I confess that it was with trepidation that I opened this book, uncertain that it would hold me, uncomfortable with the subject of a feared and too common illness. Indeed, I might never have read it, had it not been assigned to me for this review. What a loss that would have been, and what providence that I was able to share these lives, which I will never, as long as I am able, forget.
The value of the book is fourfold. It vividly portrays the various phases of Alzheimer's from early memory loss to the eventual failure to recognize loved ones. With equal honesty it describes the feelings of the caring spouse: anxiety, shame, guilt and sheer loneliness. Thirdly, it tells us much about appropriate coping strategies in a practical down-to-eartch fashion. Finally, it shows how love can blossom afresh even in such adverse circumstances.
The book opens with the author describing her monthly visit to the Alzheimer's Association group meeting where she is a volunteer as she says her Alzheimer's Journey is now over and she can be of help to others. We now have a beautiful unsentimental account of an Alzheimer's journey'.
The writing is beautifully done at both the descriptive and the emotional levels, the Egyptian-born Italian author being an accomplished linguist working with the UN. At only a hundred pages of text, it is not a word too long... There is so much we can learn from this book about coping strategies. Keeping to a regular routine, encouraging the person with Alzheimer's to go on doing what they can... Taking out an enduring power of attorney before it is too late, the use of photographs from their extensive travels in Central Africa, the playing of favourite music, constant holding of hands, making the most of the present moment, and an ingenious adaptation of Francesco's bathing arrangements, all play their part. Frederica is aware of the vital need for her own bolt-hole (in her case her little study) where for a short while she could be herself again. Throughout she is acutely sensitive to the need above all to protect her husband's dignity. She comments early in the book that she felt she faced the daunting task of "reinventing" Francesco's life; later she becomes aware of the dangers attached to this course: she needed to value him for what he had been and for who he still was.