How Good is That?: The Story of a Reluctant Heroine Hardcover – 1 Sep 2008
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On 1 September 2006, Jane finished a nine-week, 3,700-mile cycle ride across America. It was hailed as one of the greatest endurance feats ever undertaken by a terminal cancer sufferer. Jane's husband, Mike, called it 'a celebration of the human spirit over the body's frailty'. HOW GOOD IS THAT? takes the reader behind the scenes of the ride and, as well, examines the shifting nature of the couple's perspectives as they faced up, with candour and honesty, to the greatest of challenges. The book, already substantially written by Jane for her part, will be completed by Mike to give the reader an incredible and moving insight into the achievements, emotional and physical, of a woman who inspired a nation.
About the Author
Mike Tomlinson lives in Leeds as do his and Jane's three children and one grandchild. Among the many awards Jane received were an MBE in 2003, a CBE in 2007 and the Freedom of the City of Leeds. Jane and Mike have raised £1.75 million pounds for charity.
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An excellent insight into the trials and emotions of living with terminal cancer from Jane and Mike's view, the sheer determination and struggle they both went through during the trip across America. I felt priviledged to be able to share their story with them through the book.
The book takes place during the summer of 2006, starting just a few days before they flew out to the USA, through their 9 week ordeal and up to just after they arrive back in Yorkshire for the birth of their first grandchild. A brief but sad epilogue then informs us about Jane's last months.
The structure of the book consists of alternating accounts from Mike and Jane which chart Jane's progress across America. Very cleverly they avoid the mistake that too many people sharing authorship make which is to both write about the same thing at the same time. Sometimes it's Mike who tells us about how bad Jane is feeling, occasionally it's Jane herself. Mike gives us the view from the support vehicle whilst Jane's is from the saddle.
There's a remarkable lack of saintliness about the pair of them and their account of the expedition is refreshing in its honesty. This really is a warts and all account of how things went and both are honest about the anger, frustration and pain of the experience. It's easy to think every big charity fund raiser wakes up with a smile and a happy glow and goes through life beaming at everyone. Jane is not like that. She's real, she gets angry, she gets irrational, she gets stroppy - and is all the more endearing for those character traits.
It's not just about Jane and Mike - there's a cast of other characters to get to know; son Steven who's with them the whole way, daughter Becca, the other riders - Ryan and Martin - and Cindy, the dippy `facilitator' who keeps booking them into disgusting camp sites and forgetting to buy food and who can get lost on a straight road with a Tom Tom. We also - very sadly - get to learn a lot about the darker side of the American dream. There are drivers who hurl abuse at the cyclists, cut them up as if they are invisible and drive so close that the bikes are almost sucked under the wheels. Jane has a phobia about dogs and lives in terror of dog attacks which as so upsetting that she carries pepper spray. They pass through the seedy parts of cities where both the riders and the support crew are scared for their safety.
I knew little about Jane before reading this - now I can't help but be impressed with her courage, determination, tenacity and love for her family. This is a great book about an amazing inspirational woman.
RIP Jane Tomlinson - truly one of a kind
Jane showed so much courage in her fight against cancer, not letting it prevent her from always completing whatever she set her mind to do. She was truely a remarkable woman. From the first time i saw Jane on the television in 2002 when she was doing the great North Run, she showed great courage & determination in her quest to raise money for finding a cure for this terrible disease.
As i read this book,i felt love and admiration to Mike & all the family as they shared their feelings through this emotive read.
I have completed the run for all in York & hope to do it again. Last year my thoughts were with Jane as i crossed the finishing line.
How proud would she be if she were able to see what a legacy she has left?
The charity money raised through the ride across America was used also for the setting up of The Run For All's.... reading the book makes me even more determined to do them every year as Jane's true grit & determination in sometimes terrible conditions & immense pain shows me that the mind & a positive attitude is amazing in the fight against the odds.
This lady was remarkable. Words cannot describe such a true fighter. My love & thoughts are with Mike, Suzanne, Rebecca & Steven
I'm sure she is deeply missed by all that knew her. She was one wonderful lady and no doubt a great mum and wife.