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The Ultimate Love Story
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.