The messy stuff of being human that most grief books don’t mention

The people that Julia Samuels talks about in her book, Grief Works. Stories of Life, Death and Surviving, are complicated.   The first story tells of a woman living with her dying husband while having an affair. Their marriage had been difficult and after his death she spiraled out of control. We read of her path to finding some stability and calm.   In the … Continue reading The messy stuff of being human that most grief books don’t mention

Book review: Bridget Jones Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

Amidst the froth and scattiness, Helen Fielding treats her heroine’s response to grief with light but splendid realism.
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Review: All At Sea by Decca Aitkenhead

Decca is a British journalist whose first book was The Promised Land. Travels in search of the perfect E. I read her in Cosmopolitan in my twenties and she now writes about politics, the arts and more for The Guardian. She’s always seemed razor-sharp and fearless and she brings every ounce of that to her new book, All at Sea. The story tells of her … Continue reading Review: All At Sea by Decca Aitkenhead

Review: Bough Down by Karen Green

Like Imtiaz Dharker, Green is an artist as well as poet and her pictures illustrate this collection of poems.   The images in the pictures are fragmented and obscured, which echo the feel of the poems as they sift through events for shards of meaning.   Her husband was a well-known novelist who died by suicide and there is a pervasive sense of shock and … Continue reading Review: Bough Down by Karen Green

Book review: The Girl You Left Behind By Jojo Moyes

Jojo Moyes has a huge following and is maybe best known for Me Before You, which was recently made into a film. That book’s sequel, After You, deals with a young woman figuring out her life after the death of her boyfriend.   This book, The Girl You Left Behind, was published in the same year as Me Before You and centres around a French … Continue reading Book review: The Girl You Left Behind By Jojo Moyes

Pace your willpower

One take-away from Dan Ariely’s book, The (Honest) Truth about Dishonesty, is that we make worse decisions when we’re stressed. You knew that already but there’s a scientifically proven reason, which is called ego-depletion.   What you need to know is that if you have to show serious willpower for a task, cut yourself some slack beforehand.   The examples used are around food: to … Continue reading Pace your willpower

Book review: The Widow Waltz by Sally Koslow

Georgia Waltz had the perfect, super-swanky everything until her husband dropped dead while training for the New York City marathon. She then discovered there was rather a lot he hadn’t told her, most pressingly, that they had no money.   This is not a how-to on regaining solvency after losing it all but it is an escapist caper about rich New Yorkers, laced with some … Continue reading Book review: The Widow Waltz by Sally Koslow

Survival energy

When Patsy Rodenburg started teaching young actors, she also worked with prison inmates. Her fellow teachers at the drama school discussed how some actors had presence – the magical quality that makes you notice, connect with and remember someone – and some actors didn’t. Patsy noticed that all the prisoners had presence.   Re-reading Patsy’s book, called Presence, I’m struck by how her lessons – … Continue reading Survival energy

Books on multiple bereavements: Blue Nights

There are very few books about grief for the death of a grown-up child. Fewer still written by widowed people. The widow taking on this subject is one of the best writers in recent decades.   Blue Nights by Joan Didion   This is the second half of the story that begins in A Year of Magical Thinking. The first book describes the first year … Continue reading Books on multiple bereavements: Blue Nights

Fiction for the widowed things less spoken about

Abusive late husband
Sera in Thrity Umrigar’s The Space Between Us, tries to rise above painful memories even as she tends her unpleasant mother-in-law.
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Books on multiple bereavements: Wave

In the libraries and bookshops of the world, you will always find kindred spirits. For most of us it is unimaginable to lose three generations of our family but if that is your situation, it is Sonali Deraniyagala’s too.
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Status Report

Lucie Brownlee is the author of Life After You. A True Story About Love, Loss and Other Disasters
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