Prominent academic John Bayley's moving memoir of his wife, acclaimed novelist Iris Murdoch, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
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"Like being chained to a corpse, isn't it?"This is a memoir, not a biography, with obvious resonance. John Bayley, former Professor of English at Oxford, and Iris Murdoch, philosopher and author, have been married for more than 45 years. She has shown the degenerative effects of Alzheimer's Disease for the last four years. The words quoted above were not, needless to say, his. He chronicles a shared experience that can no longer be shared except with those outside of it, and as such is vital for him as he copes, rather than grieves. He purposefully blurs the boundaries of past and present as he describes the marriage of two brilliant intellectuals, determinedly unworldly and collegiate, mixing wine and water (they are serial dippers) throughout Europe as they serenely move "closer and closer apart." When Iris's intellect deteriorates her dependency inevitably increases, and they are "sailing into the dark" (her words) until the end of the book, when Bayley contends that the voyage is over, and they have both arrived somewhere. It is the spiritual answer to her perpetual question: "When are we going?", and provides a quietly uplifting resolution. John Bayley has written a magnificent paean to their love. Without underplaying the realities of living with someone with Alzheimer's, he writes in a moving and dignified way, without sentimentality, of a woman rather than a condition, who is still every bit his wife, if even more his dependent. He believes that their marriage released the child in Iris; now they watch Teletubbies together, wordlessly secure. --David Vincent Review:
"Quite simply one of the best audiobooks I've ever heard. I didn't buy the book, not being a fan of Murdoch's novels and unable to imagine that I could enjoy any sort of account of her decline into Alzheimer's. But I was quickly hooked by the love, wisdom and humour so disarmingly, openly offered by John Bayley. There is also much unconventional but remarkably nourishing food for thought about the nature of marriage, all greatly enhanced by Jacobi's candid, unhurried reading." Christina Hardyment, Independent 13/3/99
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