This is a gem of a book. As the wife of someone who has spent many years suffering intermittently from prostatitis and chronic pelvic pain, and for whom it has had a particularly devastating impact over the past 6 months, I found it enormously reassuring - as well as enjoyable - to read Tim's story. CPP is not a life-threatening or even serious condition. But it can have a surprisingly corrosive effect, not just on the life of the person suffering from it but on all those close. And it's not always easy for those close bystanders (let alone more distant observers) to understand the pain and misery it causes or be continually patient and sympathetic when their own lives are put on hold as a result.
Tim Parks' symptoms, medical experiences and personal dilemmas have been unnervingly similar to those of my husband. As a woman, it is hard to appreciate quite what the pain must be like and why it is so utterly demoralising. Tim's descriptions have helped me better understand what my husband is going through; and his frankness about the mental anguish of trying to come to terms with a condition that seems astonishingly common yet so poorly understood (and too embarrassing for most people to discuss without sniggering) is hugely refreshing. Then to read his fascinating account of how he managed to come to terms with it all gives hope indeed. It should be required reading for anyone affected by CPP, their wives and partners.
But this is not just a book for those blighted by CPP. As other reviewers have made clear, there is much more to it than just the unpacking of a particular health problem. It is a fascinating exploration of personality, a journey through the limitations of modern medicine, an unravelling of the impact of troubles in life and a lesson in how to come to terms with oneself. All told with humour and intelligent asides into the worlds of language, literature and art. There can be few people who would not enjoy and learn something from it.