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A tale of great strength and courage
on 27 September 2007
Anyone reading this book hoping to find out about Paul Hunter's snooker career is going to be rightly disappointed. Lindsey Hunter's book is concerned with far more important things - namely, love and her husband's grim, harrowing battle with cancer.
`Unbreakable' begins by sketching Lindsey's sound upbringing and normal life in Leeds, into which breezes a cousin of her friend Nicky - Paul Hunter. It's certainly not love at first sight and Lindsey's initial impressions of her husband-to-be are that he is immature and flighty. They rapidly become part of the same social set and Paul's cheekiness and good looks eventually win Lindsey over - but not until he has put her through much torment with his womanising ways and on-off relationship with his current girlfriend.
The infamous `Plan B' romp during the session break of the 2001 Masters is recalled (one of snooker's truly magical moments!), before the story moves on to Lindsey and Paul buying their first home together, marriage proposal and the idyllic wedding in Jamaica in May 2004.
Then, in March 2005 the Hunter's world is rocked to its core. Paul is tragically diagnosed with cancer just as Lindsey had written in her diary "I've never felt this happy in my life. Paul and I are so in love, so happy, with no worries. We must be the luckiest people around".
The remainder of the book makes painful, harrowing reading as descriptions of Paul's treatment and the side effects of chemotherapy are described. As Lindsey herself says, people use the word `chemo' in such a casual, off-hand manner yet with no understanding of how horrendous it is. During one period Paul vomited 30 times in 36 hours and as he sobbed in the bathroom Lindsey says of him "one side of his face was swollen and the eye was completely bloodshot from the sickness. His veins were wrecked from all the injections and blood tests and I could see needle marks all over him. His lips were cracked, his skin was an unholy colour, and the old, greyish-white bathrobe that seemed to have become his uniform was caked in vomit".
Paul's sad demise is dealt with in an honest and frank manner and these passages are counterbalanced by the hope that the Hunter's daughter, Evie Rose, brings to them. A hope for the future and a life that they can desperately cling to.
`Unbreakable' is not going to trouble any Booker shortlists but Lindsey Hunter should be congratulated for keeping sentimentality to a minimum and for describing Paul's cancer and the hell he went through in such a candid manner. Finally, there is an unwritten, chilling undercurrent coursing through the whole book - that 1 in every 3 readers will go through exactly the same horrific experience.