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My Bonnie: How dementia stole the love of my life [Paperback]

John Suchet
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 Aug 2011

After a whirlwind romance and a marriage that spanned decades, former face of ITV news, John Suchet, revealed on breakfast television that his beloved wife Bonnie was suffering with dementia, eliciting a huge response. Never had anyone spoken so movingly about dementia, the thief that stole his still youthful wife on the eve of their retirement.

My Bonnie was the number one bestseller in its category, according to the Sunday Times. Finally, the long awaited paperback edition is published, this time with a poignant new epilogue updating us on Bonnie and John’s journey through the illness. The Mail on Sunday calls My Bonnie ‘remarkable’; ‘an act of living resistance’ says the Observer.

My Bonnie is a heart-rending and uplifting read, alternating between Bonnie and John’s intense love story and the progression of the illness. When he first met Bonnie, John was bowled over by her Grace Kelly-esque poise and radiance. An exotic, and married, American beauty, she seemed beyond his reach. He had no idea, however, that his love was returned; even less suspected that the two of them would one day be together, and that for 26 years, every moment would be intense, perfect, and shared. Described by readers as ‘astonishingly honest’ and a ‘personal, beautiful love story’, John’s moving account of how his wife, barely past middle age, was diagnosed out of the blue with dementia, a disease usually associated with the elderly, remains full of joy, despite the tragedy.

Finally united, their marriage was passionate and anyone could see that John admired and adored Bonnie and that she loved him right back. They looked forward to their golden years when they could finally be with each other without distractions or obstacles. But the bewildering and gradual seizure of Bonnie’s mind stole away their hopes of growing old together and made each day a struggle. And yet Bonnie’s sense of humour and natural warmth constantly triumphs.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (18 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007328419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007328413
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.6 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John Suchet is an award-winning British newsreader, television presenter, author and a morning radio show host on Classic FM. Most famous for being a newsreader for ITV News, John worked for the channel for 32 years, between 1972 and 2004. He retired from ITN in 2004, but made a welcome return to TV news in 2006, presenting Five News.

Product Description

Review

"He has written a courageous and valuable book – one that both throws light into some hitherto curtained corners and honours the life they had together." John Preston, Daily Mail

"The story of a blissful marriage, cross-cut with a raw commentary on the progress of his wife's disease… It's the exhausted voice of carers everywhere – exasperation, loss, fear, frustrated love." Elizabeth Grice, Daily Telegraph

"What is likeable about the memoir is Suchet's lack of a stiff upper lip. He writes about love in the tone of a schoolboy, trying to make sense of an overwhelming crush…the memoir is an act of loving resistance." Kate Kellaway, The Observer

"Heartfelt, vivid and true" Sunday Times Culture

“The writing is honest and the emotions he has been put through over the last four or five years are ones which many carers will recognise in themselves. However, it is not all gloom, and he intersperses his account with the story of how he fell in love with his wife…if you were to look at the photographs in the book, you might think his life with Bonnie has been one long party.” The Spectator

About the Author

John Suchet is an award-winning British newsreader, television presenter, author and a morning radio show host on Classic FM. Most famous for being a newsreader for ITV News, John worked for the channel for 32 years, between 1972 and 2004.

He retired from ITN in 2004, but made a welcome return to TV news in 2006, presenting Five News.

In February 2009 John appeared on BBC Breakfast to talk about Bonnie's dementia and to raise awareness of the disease and the charities supporting it.

He has received a number of awards, notably The Royal Television Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award and The Television Newscaster of the Year.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
90 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Love Story 3 Jun 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreak and tragedy that you can't put down 8 Jun 2010
Format:Hardcover
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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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly moving tale of love, loss and hope 21 Jun 2010
Format:Hardcover
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you can stick at it. 16 Feb 2012
By Marc
Format:Paperback
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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern day love story 13 Jun 2010
By Sheila Camp VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 22 Nov 2010
By Julia
Format:Hardcover
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
another briliant insight into dementia and the path people have to take when living with this cruel illness
Published 12 days ago by cooky
5.0 out of 5 stars TRUE LOVE STORY
What a beautifully written book.....filled with love, sadness, laughter and tears.
Gives a very real insight into the reality of the cruel disease Dementia and how it can... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Sheena
5.0 out of 5 stars worth a read
This is an emotional roller coaster of a book. Raw honest emotion on a woman he loved to bits. and the insidious thief in the night - mental illness. Well worth a read
Published 1 month ago by Didsbury
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read, truthful and from the heart - made me laugh and cry.
Published 1 month ago by LC
5.0 out of 5 stars very true
This is so reminiscent of my own situation, and so helpful. He writes with sympathy and humour. Recommended to me by a friend
Published 1 month ago by mrs.J.Eden
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book
Written by a par excellent journalist & caring man. This book has helped so many in a similar position. recommended
Published 2 months ago by D. R. Shearn
1.0 out of 5 stars IT WAS ALL ABOUT HIM
I read a lot of memoirs, biographies and autobiographies. This one was very dull. Feel very sorry for his wife ,as dementia is such a dreadful diagnosis for anybody. Read more
Published 2 months ago by m lyons
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it twice
I read this book twice at different stages of my husvand's dementia and each time it was a meaningful read. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jos Kuper
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling reading
John Suchet has opened his heart in this book. Having lost both my parents, one to this debilitating disease, this book make me realise that all the guilt I felt was both a... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Margrete
2.0 out of 5 stars Just OK
I cannot say that I was thrilled by this book nor by the account we find in it of John Suchet as a man.

Much of it is not about his wife but about himself. Read more
Published 4 months ago by A. W. Ferdinando
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