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Travelling to Infinity: The True Story Behind the Theory of Everything Paperback – 18 Dec 2014
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'Stephen Hawking may think in 11 dimensions, but his first wife has learnt to love in several' --The Sunday Times<br \><br \>'An affectionate and moving account' --The Times<br \><br \>'Jane writes about her former husband with tenderness, respect and protectiveness' --Sunday Express
'An affectionate and moving account' --The Times
'Jane writes about her former husband with tenderness, respect and protectiveness' --Sunday Express
About the Author
Dr Jane Hawking, Stephen Hawking's wife for over twenty-five years, is a writer, teacher and public speaker. Her memoir Travelling to Infinity, which became an Oscar-winning movie in 2015 under the title The Theory of Everything and was a number-one bestseller in the UK, was followed in 2016 by the novel Silent Music, the first volume in the Immortal Souls series.
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Sadly, after reading it, there are still far too many questions. The most pressing would be "How can somebody who lived through such interesting times with such interesting people write such a terribly dull and boring book?"
Admittedly the couple were divorced by the time the book was written and the breakdown of their marriage no doubt sours the story. I still have no idea why Jane married Stephen, even less idea why she stayed married to him.
The book is written with such bitterness and resentment that I found it hard to 'like' the author or to sympathise as fully as I wanted to. She fills the pages with irrelevant details as if she just doesn't know what to cut out and what to keep in, but fails to really give the reader any idea how or why she took on the challenge of an (apparently) dying man who has no respect for her religious beliefs and little for her opinions.
Victimhood is seldom a good point of view from which to write. An inability to stick to the point and weed out the blah blah blah of life doesn't help.
The first thing to say is that Jane is an excellent and very readable writer. It didn't take many pages before I was completely drawn in to the story, and I found the book very difficult to put down.
I really applaud Jane Hawking for writing her story. It can't have been an easy thing to do, especially as she had tried so hard for many years to protect her family and keep their private life private. I for one thank her for sharing her struggles and triumphs with the world.
I'm sure that many people, particularly women and those caring for sick and disabled family members or friends, will easily be able to relate to Jane's story. I came away with a deep admiration for an incredible woman. She spent years trying not only to balance the normal stresses and strains of family life and running a home, but also caring for a severely disabled husband and fulfilling the demands of being a Cambridge academic's wife. That she managed it without having a breakdown is testament to the strong woman she must be, her faith in God, and the support of her parents, her second husband, Jonathan, and various friends.
The well known phrase "Behind every successful man there stands a woman" was never truer. This is her story and I highly recommend that you read it.
It has to be said that Stephen doesn’t come over as sympathetically as he does in the film. The film glossed over to some extent his intellectual arrogance and the demands he made on his family – such as insisting on personal care from his family rather than employing outsiders, which would have made their lives a lot easier. Having abandoned all personal ambition to devote herself to Stephen, Jane then finds him quite dismissive of her studying to obtain a PhD in mediaeval Spanish literature, calling it as ‘as useful as watching pebbles on the beach’. His love of the limelight when he’s criss-crossing the globe giving lectures and receiving awards can come across as slightly egocentric when his support team get hardly any credit for enabling all this to happen. His own family comes across as positively hostile, with his mother Isobel telling Jane: ‘We have never really liked you, Jane. You never fitted into our family.’
After having spent years being patronised and/or ignored by the academic world and flatterers eager to be associated with Stephen, Jane then finds herself isolated and outmanoeuvred by the team of round-the-clock nurses that she is obliged to employ, one of whom, Elaine Mason, takes over her main caring role and eventually becomes Stephen’s second wife.
I came away full of admiration for Jane Hawking and glad that she seems to have found peace and happiness with her second husband after the emotional roller coaster that she’s been on.
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