Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. A multimedia review.

Still_Alice_coverSynopsis in brief:
Here’s a book with a heart, and a brain. It is the story of a middle-aged woman, a university professor and leader in the field of linguistics, who at the peak of her career is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. We’re able to go right inside Alice’s thoughts to experience the world as she does as the familiar reference points that provide security and purpose slowly ebb away. We’re also privy to the emotions of her family as they struggle to deal with what is essentially her departure from the world. It is frightening at times, always sobering, yet never patronising. It is simply an honest, quiet exploration of what it means to be conscious, not just alive.

Prepare your tissues, call for silence, you will need it in order to hear your heart breaking.

Your sample of passages, made misty and nostalgic with the help of Instagram:

Alice, an academic, a woman whose whole life has been shaped and defined by her intellect, contemplates what she will miss most, when it is finally taken from her.

Alice, an academic, a woman whose whole life has been shaped and defined by her intellect, contemplates what she will miss most, when it is finally taken from her. (p.118)

A poignant passage where Alice considers the moment that her brain is dissected in a laboratory for scientific research, a process she is not unfamiliar with in her own line of work.  Yet for the first time it holds a different, much more profound, significance for her.

A poignant passage where Alice considers the moment that her brain is dissected in a laboratory for scientific research, a process she is not unfamiliar with in her own line of work. Yet for the first time it holds a different, much more profound, significance for her. (p.134)

A mother and daughter hold on to what little time they have left.  Hear that?  Yep, that was your heart getting a little crack in it.  This passage inspired the song choice for this review!

A mother and daughter hold on to what little time they have left. Hear that? Yep, that was your heart getting a little crack in it. This passage inspired the song choice for this review! (p.230)

And now, for the poetic accompaniment. Stanley Kunitz, take it away:

Touch Me

Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that’s late,
it is my song that’s flown.
Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.
What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
and it’s done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am.

Finally, the song which in my humble opinion, encapsulates the sentiments at the heart of Still Alice:

Steve Earle, “I Don’t Want to Lose You Yet”:

Bonus information, just ‘cos.
This book was originally self-published, but has since gone on to sell hundreds of thousands (?), millions (?) of copies. It has won dozens of awards, sat at #5 on the NY Times Best Seller list, and has been translated into 25 languages. And to think this gal started out selling the book from the trunk of her car. Wow. Lisa Genova rocks (Read more about her here)

Happy reading everyone!

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2 thoughts on “Still Alice, by Lisa Genova. A multimedia review.

    • Hey Diane, I’m so glad you saw the review, I know from Vick that you loved this book too so I was going to send you the link – but you beat me to it! This was a fun review to write, I might keep the theme going…. Happy Hols and lots of love to you all therexxx

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