I’ve just finished the first new book I’ve read for ages. For some reason, I’ve been rereading old favourites, absorbing their comfort and familiarity like the heat from a warm bath.
I broke the cycle with Left Neglected by Lisa Genova.
It’s been on my bedside table for weeks. I think I picked it up at Kings Cross one evening in a fit of desperation at having left my Kindle at home, and needing something to read on the journey home. Needless to say, I then ended up reading the Standard and working on the train. So it’s been lurking. I kept picking it up, reading the back, thinking ‘Nah, too thinky’, and putting it down again.
I finally picked it up at the start of the week. I finished it yesterday. And I loved it. Ok, so in some places it was a bit shallow and unbelievable, but it was also gripping, emotionally intelligent and beautifully written. And it sheds light on a condition which I’d never previously been aware of (there’s lots of things I’m not aware of, I like learning About Stuff). What I thought was going to be a fluffy story which would just slide through my brain without me registering or remembering a single thing about it, turned out to be a brilliantly titled book which reminds you that life can change in an instant. I’m off to Amazon* to get hold of her first book, Still Alice.
The book centres around Sarah Nickerson, a 37 year old multi-tasking, high flying mother of three. So far, so clichéd. She and her husband lead busy busy money money lives in Boston, play rock paper scissors to decide who is doing the school run, and are addicted to responding to the Blackberry bleep bleep.
Then one day, Sarah has a car accident on the way to work whilst using her mobile. It results in a neurological disorder, called Left Neglect, and turns lives and preconceptions upside down. Love, emotional abuse, the value of friendships and sheer determination all feature. Look out for the homework scene, which is remarkably touching. The novel works on many levels and from different angles, throwing light on the emotional implications of a life changing event.
I’m not going to tell you all about the plot because it would spoil it, frankly. I felt the author could have pushed things further and made it grittier, at times it veers towards the saccharine, but then pulls back just in time. I will say that there are no cliffhangers, and a gloriously predictable ending, but you know what? It’s so gorgeously written that I don’t care.
*Other retailers are available. It’s just that The Boo is lying across my arms as I type, and I can easily click on my favourites without disturbing her. Cat comfort comes above selective book purchasing.