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Brownlee's very personal grief journey is not for everyone
on 14 September 2014
There are times when writing a book review that you feel mean and a little concerned you may trample on the author’s feelings. Honesty however is the order of the day and so for any negativity I’m about to impart, Lucie Brownlee, I apologise.
This book is the author’s personal account of the sudden death of her husband, Mark, at the age of 38. It documents the immediate aftermath and the grieving process she went through in the 2 years following his death.
The problem I had with this book is that grief is such a very personal thing, no two people will experience it in exactly the same way. What will be right for one person may be abhorrent to another. Therefore I find it difficult writing this review to say that it was a bad book, because who am I to judge how the author chose to deal with this very personal and difficult time in her life.
The book was initially very engaging, her outline of the details surrounding the immediate aftermath of Mark’s death were very thought provoking and a wry insight into how in a very British way we handle death and funeral planning. Where I began to struggle was with the author’s apparent ongoing reliance upon alcohol to support her through her grief. Barely a page of the book went by where she wasn’t downing a glass of wine, or talking about drinking to obliteration. I personally am not someone who drinks regularly, in fact so rarely my weekly intake is largely 0 units. This meant I struggled to relate to many of her experiences. Instead I kept wanting someone to desperately take her aside and get that under control. Instead of understanding her grief journey I just worried that as well as losing her father, Brownlee’s young daughter was now subjected to watching her mother’s slow descent into alcoholism.
The first 30% of the book was good but then it became too maudlin, instead of moving forward or outlining the impact upon anyone else the author seems to get stuck on herself. It is, I imagine, a book translated in part from the blog she began writing to help her grief. It should perhaps have stayed that way, good blogs do not always good books make.
My only reaction on finishing the book, having skimmed the last 30 pages, was “thank goodness that’s over”, unless this is something you have personally experienced or have helped someone else through I have the terrible fear that this book is nothing more than a depressing way to spend a few days.