miscarriage

All posts tagged miscarriage

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death – Maggie O’Farrell

Published October 4, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

I AM, I AM, I AM is a memoir with a difference – the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman’s life in near-death experiences. Intelligent, insightful, inspirational, it is a book to be read at a sitting, a story you finish newly conscious of life’s fragility, determined to make every heartbeat count.

A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. Shocking, electric, unforgettable, this is the extraordinary memoir from Costa Novel-Award winner and Sunday Times bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell.
It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose?

What did I think?:

Where do I even BEGIN with this book? I can’t express eloquently enough the depth of my feelings for this unforgettable memoir or even explain adequately how much it affected me but I’m going to give it a good shot. I listened to the Audible version of I Am, I Am, I Am (which I highly recommend by the way) but it’s one of those books that because it has become a favourite of mine, I simply had to get a hard copy also and was lucky enough to receive one as a gift. This book has had a lot of hype around the blogging/reviewing community and rightly so. After reading a fair few of Maggie O’Farrell’s novels, I already knew she was a gifted, beautiful writer but even after all the critical acclaim, I still wasn’t prepared for the wave of emotions this book invoked. There were points when I was almost a sobbing mess and kind of wished I wasn’t listening to it in public (more on that later) and other parts which made me reflect on the nature of mortality and the fascinating journey my life has been up until now whilst fully appreciating the good things and the great people that I am lucky to have around me and hold them close. I can’t thank the author enough for reminding me how precious they really are.

Maggie O’Farrell, author of I Am, I Am, I Am.

If you’re slightly cynical of the title and wonder how O’Farrell can possibly have had seventeen near death experiences, let me explain. The events that the author discusses are brushes with mortality that both she and her children have suffered in their lives. Some are mere whispers of things that might have been i.e. near escapes, potentially life-altering events and then there are the severe, life-threatening episodes that continue to have a dramatic effect on the author’s emotional and physical health. This ranges from a severe childhood illness that Maggie sadly still suffers repercussions from, encounters with individuals that threaten her life, problems with pregnancy and labour and the current trauma that Maggie finds herself embroiled in that profoundly affects the present and the future of one of her children. This is an honest, raw and deeply moving look at life and death in all its guises that may make you look at your own life in a whole different way but will most assuredly make you happy just to be alive.

I think I’ve become a more emotional person as I’ve got older and gone through different experiences in my life and I do find myself slightly more sensitive to difficult topics, including illness and death. However, I was profoundly moved by Maggie O’Farrell’s story and couldn’t quite comprehend a) the obstacles she has overcome in her life b) how she continues to struggle and cope on a daily basis with her daughter’s heart-breaking medical problems and c) how she manages to maintain such a strong, positive and sunny outlook. I felt humbled, inspired and honoured to be allowed into her world and, as I’ve mentioned, it did make me consider parts of my own life, particularly those parts where I felt a strong personal connection with the author.

I wrote a post a while back about how I’ve been coping with recurrent miscarriages and funnily enough, it seems to be a topic which appears in quite a few books I’ve read recently! I was worried at first about how I was going to deal with reading about it but I’m actually finding it quite therapeutic – now even more so with I Am, I Am, I Am. Miscarriage unfortunately seems to be still quite a taboo subject and when I was going through it these past eighteen months, I didn’t really feel able to talk to anyone who would really understand what I was going through. With this memoir, it’s so strange to say, but finally I feel understood and comforted. Maggie talks about her own loss so articulately and thoughtfully that it was such a relief to realise that all the emotions I was experiencing were perfectly natural and more importantly, that I wasn’t alone. Other people were going through this, other people felt the same way as me and I shouldn’t blame myself on any level. As I listened to this particular passage, I was walking to the train station on the way to work and I have to admit, it wasn’t the easiest thing to listen to whilst I was in public. But holy cow, was it rewarding? The answer is yes.

It’s often quite tricky to dissect a memoir. After all, this is someone’s life, personal experiences, tragedies and triumphs you’re talking about and we all may have differing opinions on it depending what we’ve been through in our own individual lives. However, for me this book was perfection. It reminded me about love, about how special life is and most importantly, how to hope and believe in a better future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

Advertisements

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

Published May 18, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A funny, often poignant tale of boy meets girl with a twist: what if one of them couldn’t stop slipping in and out of time? Highly original and imaginative, this debut novel raises questions about life, love, and the effects of time on relationships.

Audrey Niffenegger’s innovative debut, The Time Traveler’s Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.

The Time Traveler’s Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare’s marriage and their passionate love for each other as the story unfolds from both points of view. Clare and Henry attempt to live normal lives, pursuing familiar goals—steady jobs, good friends, children of their own. All of this is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control, making their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

What did I think?:

I’ve mentioned in a recent post that I’ve started doing a new “thing.” I am currently trying to make my way through a humungous TBR by reading one fiction book, one non fiction book and an old favourite (because the books on my favourites shelves are becoming sadly neglected for all the new, shiny ones!). The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of my all-time favourite reads that I gave five stars on when I first read it and was curious to find out if it still remained a favourite or whether I would have to send it on its merry way to the charity shop. Luckily, I adored it and it still remains a firm favourite with that five star rating fully intact, however it came with a host of problems that I had forgotten about and not anticipated. I’m about to get a bit personal now so if that isn’t your bag, you don’t have to keep reading, I won’t be offended, I promise!

Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife with a quote from the novel that really resonates with me.

Urrrgh, okay. Here we go. So I’ve alluded in past posts that it’s been one hell of a year. Well, actually one hell of an eighteen months and that’s because in the past nine months alone, I’ve had two miscarriages, three surgeries, a scare when they thought I had a brain tumour (I’m fine!) and now, there will be further investigations in the hospital as this brings my total miscarriage count to three. That’s a very brief summary but things have been absolutely mental and obviously quite traumatic, I haven’t had the easiest time physically or emotionally and my second one was particularly horrific. Is there a point Beth? Does this relate to the book in any way, shape or form? Oh dear, I do love a bit of rambling in my reviews don’t I?! We’ll get to the point in the next paragraph.

Sad but true. And we NEED to start talking about it. 

If you haven’t managed to get round to this gorgeous book yet, let me give you a quick summary. It’s essentially a love story between Henry and Clare. I know, I know, I don’t normally “do” romance but this one captured my heart completely. Henry is a time traveller which he discovered from a very young age. He jumps backwards and forwards in his lifespan and always arrives naked, which as you can imagine, can be quite tricky depending on the location he arrives in! Henry meets Clare as a child during one of his journeys and immediately recognises her as the woman he is married to in the future. Audrey Niffenegger then tells their story which jumps about as Henry travels, from their very first meeting, to when they fall in love and begin a physical relationship, to their marriage and life together as husband and wife. Obviously during this time, Henry is still time travelling but each journey becomes more and more dangerous as they fight to find a doctor that will firstly believe them and secondly attempt to find a cure. Added to this is their desperate fight to have a child which is hampered by Clare suffering multiple, very traumatic miscarriages that makes them think the “time travel” gene is preventing them from having a family of their own and a happy, “normal” ending.

Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana as Clare and Henry in the 2009 film.

So for some reason, when I first decided to re-read my old favourites, I had completely forgotten about what the character Clare goes through regarding the miscarriages and the struggle to have a child. As soon as I realised and remembered whilst reading, I automatically had a feeling of dread. Could I handle this? Everything was so raw at the time with my own situation, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be strong enough. Happily, I coped just fine and although it was an emotional reading experience and I did shed a few tears, it actually made my re-read even more memorable and special as I could really sympathise with the female lead. Aside from this, The Time Traveler’s Wife is just such a fantastic, exciting and moving read where you become instantly invested in the characters, their story and just hope against all hope for a happy ending for them. I’m not going to give away the ending for those who haven’t read it yet but I think it was pretty damn perfect in my opinion. There was love, there was hope and there was sadness. Everything wasn’t wrapped up with a neat little bow but I definitely felt optimistic for our characters future. Please read this if you haven’t so far, it’s a stunning story that took my breath away both the first and second time I read it and it’s one I’ll certainly be reading again in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

The End Of Miracles – Monica Starkman

Published June 1, 2016 by bibliobeth

27037957

What’s it all about?:

Margo Kerber has endured difficult years battling infertility while trying to sustain her good marriage and satisfying career. When a seemingly miraculous pregnancy ends in a late miscarriage, Margo is devastated. For a time, the unshakable yet false belief that she is pregnant again provides relief from all-consuming grief. When her fantasy inevitably clashes with reality, Margo falls into a deep depression requiring admission to a psychiatric unit. Uncertain if the sometimes chaotic environment there is helping or making her worse, she seizes an opportunity to flee. Alone on the city streets, new fantasies propel her to commit a crime with devastating consequences for herself and others.
Written by a prominent psychiatrist, this stirring portrait of one woman’s psychological unravelling takes readers on a journey across the blurred boundaries between sanity and depression, madness and healing.”

What did I think?:

First of all, many thanks to the lovely people at She Writes Press for providing me with a digital copy of this fascinating debut novel in exchange for an honest review. I have to be perfectly honest and say that I didn’t find this an easy read at all – the subject matters of infertility, miscarriage and mental health touch into some of my worst fears but ultimately I found this story to be a very rewarding one and a highly emotional reading experience.

Our main character is Margo Kerber, an intelligent and compassionate woman who works as a hospital administrator and volunteers part-time with children in the hospital who are ill and just require some comfort and a bit of cheering up and at a home for young people with severe mental health difficulties. She is married to Steven, who is successful in his own right and their marriage is primarily a happy one although they both feel that having a child would make their family complete.

Unfortunately, after some time of “trying,” the couple are given the devastating news that it is unlikely that they will ever conceive which breaks both their hearts but especially Margo, who always felt she was born to be a mother. Then one day, a miracle occurs, Margo finds out she is pregnant but their happiness is short-lived when she loses the baby. I don’t want to give too much more away but this event and others that follow send our poor protagonist into a spiral of grief, severe depression and frightening psychosis that leads to her marriage teetering on a knife edge. Margo must now go through extensive therapy examining both her traumatic past and painful present and a little soul searching if she is to recover some of the person she once was and regain hope for her future.

So, as you can imagine from this little summary, this book is tough but if you can handle the triggers it may invoke, it is a hugely important and powerful read. The author has many years of experience behind her as a psychiatrist and it is clear how much of her personal knowledge and experience was put into the novel which I really appreciated as a reader. I was also pleasantly surprised by how beautifully written some of the prose was which for me is always a bonus in a novel and clearly demonstrates a creative and imaginative mind. Everything about it was so very believable, including the characters and plot and although it raised quite a few painful emotions as I read it, I’m so very glad I did.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0