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Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything Hardcover – 30 Jan 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 352 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Two Roads (30 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444751786
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444751789
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 3.5 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (352 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Touching... There are many moments of heartwarming sentiment. Literary snowdrops grow out of the barren earth... This book is the constant, tenuous but vital reconnection between a child and its mother... A fine book. (AA Gill, The Sunday Times)

The whole point of this book is that it starts with love. It opens out into medicine, philosophy, reportage from both sides of the Atlantic, but it only is able to be the profoundly moving book it is because it is infused with love to begin with.
Books like this are difficult to get right: just a hint of emotional dishonesty, whether self-pity or even lightly veiled self-praise, and they flounder. There's none of that here, just the opposite: this is a book written with a rare combination of analytical inquiry - Magnusson is clearly appalled by our collective lack of care for those with dementia and determined to do what she can to improve things - and intimate, deeply moving memoir.


Powerful. (Guardian)

A wonderful book... Part memoir and part manifesto for how we should treat older people, it had me hooked from the moment I picked it up. It's pitch-perfect in the way it describes what sufferers' families go through... It's had me enthralled. It helps that Magnusson is a journalist and tackles the subject with insight and perspicacity. It should be compulsory reading for every doctor and nurse, because it reminds us that behind every patient with dementia, there are friends and families who are grieving for the person that we will never know. (Max Pemberton, The Telegraph)

Moving. (The Times)

Sally Magnusson set out to write a book about dementia and in this she has succeeded wonderfully. But Where Memories Go is also - perhaps primarily - a book about love... Although this book is full of interesting facts, with forays into laboratories, hospitals and care homes, tenderness is its most striking quality. It is a description of a terrible disease, but also of redemptive love. (Mail on Sunday)

It is impressive that a book that can be so clear-eyed in its reporting can often leave the readers' eyes brimming... A brave, compassionate, tender and honest portrait of a mother and family that also informs a conversation we all need to be having. I daresay this book will prove to be what Mamie felt so frustrated in her declining years at not being: useful. (Metro)

A deeply moving, yet ultimately triumphant story of a family coping with the loss of a loved one... Written with extraordinary empathy and tenderness... What stands out most amid the chaos and heartache are not sadness and gloom, but rather the strength of human love and the versatility of the human spirit, as we witness the family bravely coming to terms with their bereavement. A shining example of courage in adversity. (The Lady)

Moving, funny, warm account of her mother's demise and a clarion call for change. (Mail on Sunday (You Magazine))

A heartfelt memoir about the love between parents and children. (Good Housekeeping)

It is an emotional book, beautifully written, well observed, and important for all of us who at some stage or another be caught up in a similar tragedy... It is hard to read it without weeping (Magnus Linklater West Highland Press - Books of the Year 2014)

Sally Magnuson's new book, radiating artistry and integrity, is an inspiring and extraordinarily gripping testament to a mother with dementia and to the enduring grace of love. (WI Life)

A heart rending and touching portrait... incredibly moving. (Psychologies)

Scottish BBC journalist Magnusson writes movingly and beautifully about her love for her mother, Mamie Magnusson, a journalist who struggled as Alzheimer's robbed her of her memory and her gift with words... Much of her beautifully written memoir is an appeal to readers to treat people with dementia with dignity rather than focus only on treating them with drugs... This memoir should go a long way toward easing any shame that families feel about loved ones with Alzheimer's (Booklist)

This is an extraordinarily moving memoir which is, at the same time, a fascinating exploration of a condition that touches virtually every family. This book will help our understanding. (Alexander McCall Smith)

I was bowled over by this book. Intensely moving and inspiring, it is as much about living, laughing and family life as it is about loss and death. I read it in one sitting and thought about it again and again. (Joanna Lumley)

A brave story of a family's love for their mother, told with affection, steadfastness and humour - and a cool-headed battle-cry to do more and better. (Sarah Brown, global campaigner for Health and Education)

Never has the subject of dementia been dealt with so movingly and with such penetrating intelligence. Sally Magnusson writes with the deep love of a daughter, and the calm professionalism of a journalist. The result is a work of genuine significance, that brings understanding and analysis to an affliction that thousands of families must face in the years ahead. A beautiful and important book. (Magnus Linklater, Times columnist, Scottish commentator and former editor of The Scotsman)

I was in tears on the very first page. (Kirsty Wark)

The story of remarkable women from a remarkable family living through the journey of dementia. At times funny and heartening, and at times desperately sad, it is an inspiration to others who will walk this path. All who work in the field need to read this and reflect on what we can do to improve on the services we currently provide. (Dr June Andrews, director of the Dementia Services Development Centre, Stirling University)

A wonderful book. (Dr Frank Gunn-Moore, molecular neurobiologist)

A lovely book - so intimate and truthful, painful and joyous. (Liz Lochhead, National Poet for Scotland)

This is simply beautiful, honest, piercingly intelligent, page-turning and written from the heart. A stunning piece of writing and experience. (Alistair Moffat, author, broadcaster and book festival director. Rector of the University of St. Andrews)

A remarkable and courageous book which will have immense positive benefits for many different people - those who care, those who are entering the long walk into the gloaming, and those who are responsible for making and implementing policy. Mostly dementia does not alight simply on one person: its eddies can encompass a whole family. This book tells one such story in an exquisite, but sometimes painful way. (Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, philosopher, former chair of the Royal Commission on Long-Term Care of Older People and President of Alzheimer Scotland)

Beautifully written and honest. (Candis Magazine)

A life-changing book... shot through on every page with insights about love, the strength of family life and the enduring human spirit... Where Memories Go is a triumph over the darkness of dementia (Sunday Post)

Book Description

Scottish broadcaster and author Sally Magnusson cared with her two sisters for their mother Mamie during many years of living with dementia. Sad and funny, wise and honest, this deeply intimate account of insidious losses and unexpected joys is also a call to arms that challenges us all to think differently.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Sally Magnusson, a television reporter, is the daughter of Magnus, broadcaster and journalist, who died of cancer in 2007. This is the moving account of Sally's mother, Mamie, herself a newspaper reporter, and her dementia that relentlessly advances, is life-changing for the sufferer, those surrounding her and for which there is no cure until death intervenes. The author writes that 'Dementia is one of the greatest social, medical, economic, scientific, philosophical and moral changes of our time. I am a reporter, it became the biggest story of my life'. This is a memorial to Mamie and also to memory. The devastation felt by a child whose mother cannot remember your name or later even who you are is unbearable. The tragic and poignant downward spiral in memory and communication is accompanied by brief moments of confused communication, imparted in a sweet and humorous way by the author. The smiles bely the underlying problem that may start with forgetfulness, repetition, a bemused expression, and confusion. How many of us are affected by these? Age-related or the beginnings of something more sinister.

Sally Magnusson has written of her mother's later life and is a fitting memorial to an adored and talented mother. Little is told of her life before her Alzheimer's disease set in. As our population lives longer, most of us will have someone close or know of someone with this dreadful mystery of age. This book may go towards helping, in whatever way, one person's experience, and that we, the readers are not alone. My family have seen this sad decline in our family members. A fine, well-written loving and touching book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am caring for my 89 year old mum who has dementia.

This book describes the practical and emotional journey of this condition; how it affects the person with dementia (as far as someone observing the person can know) and those who are close and caring for them. It is reassuring to read how Sally and her family react and adapt to this ever changing condition and know that it is OK not to get it right all the time; we are human, we learn by our mistakes and are then able to get back on track. Everyone is an individual and each person's dementia will differ depending on many things, including their own personalities, but the general flow of things is familiar. It is also reassuring to read of Sally's decisions about her mother 'not' going into hospital unless absolutely necessary and their thought processes about medical treatment to prolong life. It does not give answers - everyone is different - but it does give us permission to come to our own decisions without guilt.

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone on this journey.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Such a good book - Sally Magnusson is a brilliant writer and her account of her mother's decline is heart rending. There is also lots of information on dementia of all kinds - something I found fascinating as someone whose grandparents both had dementia. Not all sad though - laugh out loud moments too and a memoir written with great love. Anyone involved in dementia care should read.
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By CycleRacing HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 31 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Losing any loved one to dementia is so desperate and so sad. One of those helpless times where you feel that it just marches steadfastly through all of your lives slowly pulling apart the threads that hold your family and relationships together.

This book clearly shows how this is the case yet at the same time shows a very human slant on the disease. It encompasses humour and intelligence to the subject but the desperation and the love are also there.

It is a really good read. It will have you crying to smiling within pages. Would recommend.
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Format: Hardcover
Sally Magnusson's WHERE MEMORIES GO: WHY DEMENTIA CHANGES EVERYTHING is, more than anything, a heartbreakingly beautiful love letter to her late mother, who succumbed, following a years-long struggle, to that cruellest of diseases.

Mamie Magnusson was a journalist and columnist, locally famous and beloved in her native Scotland, where, with her more famous husband, TV personality Magnus Magnusson, she raised five children of whom Sally is the oldest. The author's memories of her parents and the ways in which she and her siblings rallied together to provide care as her mother's mind slowly slipped away form the beating heart of this touching tribute. As an investigative journalist, Magnusson also inserts alternate chapters incorporating the research she undertook about the insidious nature of Alzheimer's and other causes of dementia; and she also documents the grossly inadequate and often casually cruel way in which dementia patients are treated and 'warehoused' by the health care system. And while all of this is helpful and informative, the thing that makes this book so damn good, so heart-wrenchingly effective, is the personal stuff: the stories of her parents' childhoods and courtship, her memories of her own childhood, the description of losing her father to pancreatic cancer, and, most of all, the final years, months and days of her mother's life.

There is humor here too, as Mamie was a person who loved to laugh and sing and make others laugh - a quality she kept right up to the bitter end, fighting through the fog of dementia, groping for words. And losing the 'words' was perhaps the cruelest cut of all, because Mamie loved words, made her living with words. But when the words began to go, it simply became too very sad.
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