I haven’t seen the movie with Julianne Moore’s award winning performance so thought I’d catch up by reading the book. Lisa Genova has done us a remarkable service by writing this book and of course, her advocacy in the field of Alzheimer’s. It was a powerful idea to write from the point of view of Alice herself as her once brilliant mind slowly decays. It’s also somewhat terrifying for those of us with familial histories of this disease, so Genova’s interview remarks at the end of the book on ways forward for developing a cure are welcome. Let’s hope they get there soon. It’s rather awe-inspiring that a person with a PhD in neuroscience can write such a very good debut novel (sitting in Starbucks during school hours only, no less). Genova says that the only concession she made to reality was to compress the time from noticing symptoms to diagnosis. It’s usually longer for Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, because there can be so many other things going on: being busy, depressed, menopausal etc.
Genova does an excellent job in literary terms. Characterisation, plot and writing style are all terrific. The recurring device where Alice programs her Blackberry to ask the same questions every day is a good one. As her answers become less full and accurate we have an idea of what it’s like to be in this mind. It’s not surprising that everyone with EOAD with whom Genova spoke considered suicide. I certainly would. Interesting too was the change in the relationship Alice has with youngest daughter Lydia, going from somewhat distant and uncomfortable to something much closer. Ironically, because Lydia has chosen acting as a career without getting a degree she is much more willing to engage with Alice’s feeling life than husband John or siblings Anna and Tom. John’s response to Alice is well written too, though less sympathetic to us, the readers. As a scientist at the top of his game we can appreciate his desire to leave Harvard for a prestigious job with Sloane Kettering in New York, but to even thinking about removing Alice from familiar surroundings sounds heartless. However, it is a hugely difficult thing he is dealing with and it ill becomes us to criticise. The book doesn’t take us to the inevitable end. It stops with Lydia asking Alice to hear some lines and telling her what emotion she has succeeded in conveying. Alice has no problem identifying love and though it might be corny, this is really the answer to the question Alice and all of us must ask. If my job, my intellect, my memories, my language are all stripped away, what am I? A being who can feel and care.
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 470 KB
- Print Length: 337 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; UK ed. edition (5 August 2010)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B007FROH4G
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 7,268 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #231,799 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)