This moving journal charts Abse's reactions during the year after he lost his wife, Joan, in a traffic accident. Having lost my daughter in a traffic accident nearly a year ago I found it comforting to read his words - it made me realise that the range of feelings I have are not unique: that I am not mad ... but that the grief one feels when an innocent loved one is killed in this way is complex and long-lasting. He is an eloquent guide to this difficult territory ... at times, so 'eloquent' that I found myself having to consult the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in order to understand some of his words - and this, despite having a master's degree in English! However, maybe such a difficult journey needs difficult language to try to explain things at times.
The journal also includes various poems - both by Abse and other writers -that shed light on his feelings.
This is a moving book - but it is not unremittingly bleak: at times it will make the reader laugh as well as cry. Whilst I obviously found it struck a special chord for me, I don't feel that you have to be grief-stricken in order to appreciate Abse's evocation of his wife's presence and the charting of his journey through the year following her death ... indeed, it would be foolish to make such an assumption, just as it would to make the assumption that a reader has to be old and have ungrateful children in order to appreciate 'King Lear'!
Abse is famous as a poet, but he is a fine writer of prose too, as this journal attests. I recommend the book - buy it - you won't be disappointed.