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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 November 2014
I came to this book knowing the author's husband a little through the poetry scene. Michael Donaghy was a charismatic poet, who was a brilliant reader (or perhaps I should say reciter, as he did readings from memory) of his own poetry. He would do the same with poems by others: I remember him doing a slot of Robert Frost poems.

He was also an inspiring teacher of a number highly regarded contemporary poets, as well as a very good musician in the Irish music scene. He played the flute, penny whistle and a traditional drum. When the history of poetry in Britain of this time gets written, his name will, I suspect, be writ large. His Collected Poems are a testament to his brilliance, and are essential reading for anyone interested in the poetry of recent years. A volume of prose writings, The Shape of the Dance: Essays, Interviews and Digressions, will afford a flavour of his mercurial mind. An all too brief opus whose size in no way reflects the richness and magnitude of his achievement, or the spell he cast, because he had presence and considerable personal charm.

This book gives an insight into the private man behind all this. I have not been introduced to Michael's widow, though I have seen her give talks about him at events, including at the large memorial celebration to him at Union Chapel, London after his death. In these pages there is much more about the uncertainties and illnesses behind the vitality, as well as their relationship and the circumstances as how they came to meet. Plus what happened in the years after Michael's death. The book also gives a fascinating insight into the life of the contemporary poetry scene where poets usually have to make their living largely through other means.

In this Maddy Paxman is as much, if not more, telling a story of a grieving process. This is her story. In it she comes across as unflinchingly honest about herself. Honest about the difficulties of maintaining a relationship which lasted twenty years with a free spirit. Very honest about her own negative feelings and ambivalences towards with her husband, as well as documenting the high points- both things loving relationships have to hold if they last.

This book will be of interest to those interested in Michael. It will also hold much interest to people who counsel those going though a grieving process, or those actually in one. It is a poignant story, beautifully told.
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on 22 April 2014
I have to confess a connection to the author as she is my sister, so I have been there, living through the experience with her. But familial links aside, I believe Maddy is a truly brilliant writer and you would never guess this to be only her first book: it is written with such fluidity, clarity, honesty and understanding of the human condition. Her style is completely accessible, even when plumbing the depths of emotional pain, and she retains a light touch and sense of humour throughout. It's very readable - in fact hard to put down. I believe this book will give joy and be of great support to others trying to navigate through grief and loss, to those endeavouring to raise a child single handedly, to friends and fans of the deeply missed poet Michael Donaghy, and anyone with a poetic heart or who has been in love. I laughed and cried equally.
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on 20 November 2014
"I wondered how I would possibly be able to leave, to take the last sight of this man I had loved for twenty-one years, who had been my soul-mate, best friend, co-parent, latterly husband, and also my burden." This is Maddy Paxman in the immediate aftermath of the sudden death from a brain haemorrhage of her husband the poet Michael Donaghy. Her remarkable and brave book tells the story of their relationship and of how Maddy tried to come to terms with his death. The author is at times almost brutally candid in her depiction of the ups and downs of their life together and of the flaws in herself and in this gifted man and poet. I was absorbed by the book from its beginning to its end of the book and could identify with much of what Maddy writes on the emotional turmoil of grief.
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on 16 December 2014
I bought this book on the advice of my husband, the poet Simon R. Gladdish, and I'm very glad I did. It is a thoughtful, moving, meditative and, at times, brutally honest account of her life with her poet husband: 'When I met Michael, aged twenty-nine, he was still on the slow climb back to stability - a fragile creature with scarred wrists, tormented by nightmares and sustained by music and poetry and drinking.' I think that this memoir is destined to become a classic.
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on 8 June 2014
Only someone who has lost a husband and best friend could write like this - all so very true. Life changes forever and the memories sometimes hurt very much. A wonderful book - says it all. I shall share it with friends who like us are widows.
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on 14 August 2014
This is a wonderful book... It is beautifully written and emotionally intelligent. I haven't lost a husband but have experienced loss, and navigated back from darkness..I think his book will truly help anyone going through a similar experience.. I couldn't put it down, and looked forward to reading it as I felt it explored the depths of the human soul.
Highly recommended.
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on 19 June 2014
There is a literature of grief. This book should become a classic. It is eminently readable, engaging, touching and truthful. The author lost her husband, Michael Donaghy, a well-known poet, quite suddenly, from a cerebral bleed when he was just 50. They had a young son. It's a closely observed account of their relationship (warts and all), their family life as two artists in London, his shocking death and the long slog back from sudden bereavement. Might sound a downer but it is not. The tremendous humanity and integrity of the author lift this book to a different level. Although I haven't lost husband, I still found this a compelling read on par with Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking. Highly recommended.
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on 10 July 2016
I lost my husband 6 years ago and feel often that people think I should be over it by now. I completely empathised with this author. I don't read books but I couldn't put this one down. It helped, considerably.
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on 28 June 2014
The honesty with which Maddy Paxman explores her marriage, her loss and her grief makes this book exceptionally touching. She glosses over nothing but uses all her powers of observation and her skills as a writer to describe her personal experience in a way that illuminates the realities of grieving.

Highly recommended.
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on 26 June 2014
I like this book for its honesty , no frills insight into loss -it is a journey and you carry your grief with you through life.
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