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on 3 June 2010
I read this book in a day - talk about a page turner.

John Suchet describes how he has effectively lost his beloved wife Bonnie to dementia. He relates this incredibly personal, beautiful and ultimately tragic love story so eloquently, I confess I found the tears flowing more than once.

And I am a hardened journalist!

He is astonishingly honest about his own perceived failings, both personal and professional, pretty hard on himself at times actually.

I hope the book will bring comfort to others whose loved ones have dementia. This very personal memoir exposes the uniquely cruel nature of the disease. It can mean the worst kind of bereavement for loved ones who find the person they knew has gone forever, although their physical presence remains.

Thankfully I have no personal experience of this but the book brings to life the devastation, heartbreak and daily frustration of such a bleak and hopeless situation, for there is no hope of recovery. And the journey cannot be shared because the sufferer is oblivious to their decline.

My only reservation about the book is that sadly, I didn't really feel I knew Bonnie after reading it. John Suchet tells us she is the love of his life, that before her illness they never had a cross word, that they had a passionate time between the sheets and that she was a supportive wife.

He proudly tells us of her Grace Kelly/Lee Remick, blonde good looks (which we can see from all the stunning photos of her). But he doesn't give us too much insight into her personality or character before dementia took hold. I would have liked to have got to know her better as she was in her sparkling prime.

I was left feeling desperately sad and sorry for the Bonnie who is gone. She was a loving wife, mother and grandmother. Her wonderful life, her relationships as she knew them, her spirit and essence have been stolen from her by dementia.

She now lives in a home, where she gets the full time care she needs and John visits her every week.

It is a love story with a tragic ending for Bonnie and John. But I hope he takes comfort from treasured memories of all the happy years he shared with the love of his life. For it was clearly the kind of love that very few people are lucky enough to ever experience in a lifetime.
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on 16 February 2012
This is a hard book to read, but worth sticking with. Davids honesty does him no favours in the early pages and he becomes a hard man to like or respect; he is revealled intially as a man who excommunicated his parents allegedly at the insistance of his wife who he then cheated on, when he committed adultery with a neighbour (the Bonnie of the title) He makes himself even less likable when he then leaves his wife and children for his new love, revelling in the freedom abandoning his children gives him.However, his devotion and care for 'his Bonnie' as she slides further into dementia are touching.
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on 8 June 2010
I agree with the previous review. This book is one of those that you simply can't put down. Reading the story of how Bonnie went from the love of John's life to being a different person altogether is simply heartbreaking. Despite the tragedy, John manages to narrate a tale which is full of humour (I laughed out loud on many occasions), whilst providing the reader with a deeply emotional account of how dementia effects, not only the sufferer, but the carer too.

Bonnie was clearly a wonderful wife and the heartbreak is made all the stronger given that John is still able to see her every day. But the person John visits is no longer his Bonnie. This book should provide solace and comfort to anyone who has been exposed to the same decisions John has faced. I wish John well.
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on 21 June 2010
I started this book at just after 10pm, tucked up in bed to read a chapter or two. I put it down around 4am, having been unable to put it down and having read it from start to finish. Despite knowing the end, I couldn't bear to leave it and have to step back into the mix of profound sorrow and joy so eloquently described. Very few people have the privilege of loving and being loved so deeply and completely as John and Bonnie so clearly did (and do still, at least in John's case) and they would have rightly expected it to end only in death. The pain of this living death oozes from the pages and one can only grieve with John for his constant reminder of loss and admire his courage in stepping forward into life.

Essential reading for anyone who knows anyone with, or living with, dementia and a clarion call for proper, informed care for sufferers and their carers.
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VINE VOICEon 13 June 2010
This was such a lovely read and leaves you in tears but more aware of what carers of people with dementia (and perhaps of other illnesses) have to "put up with". I could fully understand John's guilt at the decisions he had to make, having had to make a similar decision myself but as people in the book have told him, he has a life himself. John has brought to the fore how dementia affects people, but what was very shocking was the fact that the Admiral Nurses are few and far between - hopefully in the work that John does for Dementia UK this will change.

If you think this will be a sad book, it is in places, but also funny and very open. Truly a love story.
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on 22 November 2010
I found this read at times frustrating and for the most part disappointing. I felt the book could have been more aptly named 'My Self' as I felt it left me the reader with a very shadowy picture of Bonnie and a sense that John was the only important player in this.I wondered about the other familial supports in his life which were only briefly alluded to in the story. I would have loved to have known more about the woman that Bonnie was before dementia took her over. Instead there were only brief glimpses into what sounded a very interesting life pre- dementia.In that way I feel I would have been able to connect more with her and indeed John himself as they journeyed with this very cruel illness. I think in more ways than one Bonnie was 'lost' in this book.
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on 13 July 2010
I look after my 91 year old mother who suffers from vascular dementia from choice, although it is very difficult at times. I found reading John Suchet's account of his life before and up to his wife's dementia very illuminating, because it helped me understand my feelings towards my mother's condition, which are occasionally not as sympathetic as I would like them to be. He made me realise that I am not alone and that it is perfectly human and natural to feel this way. It will still be very difficult for me, but I intend to carry on with my caring as long as my mother recognises her family, and maintains the same sense of humour on her good days which makes me laugh and gets me through each day.
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on 27 July 2010
The book is well written and makes a swift, fluid read. The ultimate relevance for someone caring for someone with Alzheimer's or who knows someone who is, will be the final quarter, which covers Bonnie's deterioration and John's struggle to make the decision to have her looked after by professional carers in a residential home (in Sept 2009) The rest of the book swaps between telling their love story with some references to work/family/lifestyle etc. and descriptions of what 'his Bonnie' is doing at the time of writing - pacing the corridor/fussing over her handbag/collecting tissues/coming out with completely irrelevant responses etc. The Bonnie he fell in love with and the Bonnie of now - 2 entirely different people. John reveals himself as a passionate lover, a besotted husband, a devoted carer and as a flawed human being under great personal duress. He describes several occasions when he 'loses it' with Bonnie - entirely understandable. I wonder if carers of people with Alzheimer's might find John Suchet gives voice to emotions/thoughts/behaviour that they have hardly dared to admit, even to themselves? It may help them to recognise where 'they are at' in their tortuous journey and help them to know how/when to proceed.
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on 24 August 2011
I have had to physically stop myself from reading this compelling narrative in one sitting. John Suchet talks so movingly of his wife and what the dreadful disease of dementia has done to her and indeed to him. The adoration and love he shows for Bonnie cries out from every page. A little more on Bonnie before she was ill is the only thing I find slightly lacking. Highly recommended.
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on 18 July 2010
Excellent book but very, very sad. John Suchet goes through the whole process of how this cruel and dreadful illness took over his wife Bonnie and how eventually he made the heart breaking decision to put her into a care home.

Throughout the book John's love for his wife comes across very strongly and one can only imagine his day by day despair as he sees the illness taking hold and his wife gradually slipping away from him.

This is a brave book written from the heart by John but it is so sad.
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