The Shaking Woman, or A History of My Nerves by Siri Hustvedt; The Woman Who Thought Too Much: A Memoir by Joanne Limburg; Eating Pomegranates: A Memoir of Mothers, Daughters and Genes by Sarah Gabriel - review by Christine Doyle

Christine Doyle

Christine Doyle Takes the Pulse of Three Medical Memoirs

The Shaking Woman, or A History of My Nerves

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Sceptre 213pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

The Woman Who Thought Too Much: A Memoir

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Atlantic Books 336pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Eating Pomegranates: A Memoir of Mothers, Daughters and Genes

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Jonathan Cape 308pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

Memoirs by those with painful experiences of mental or physical illness form an established and rapidly expanding genre. All three books under review have striking, perhaps faintly absurd, titles but they are all well written, spiked with wit, and thoroughly researched. Emotions are described with touching honesty. Siri Hustvedt’s The Shaking Woman, or A History of My Nerves is the most wide-ranging and academic as she moves through the history of neurology, psychology, pharmacology and psychiatry in her search for all possible explanations for the shaking woman she has become. She asks: ‘Who and what is she?’ 

Her mystery tour started dramatically six years ago, when she spoke at a memorial for her father. The much-praised author of four novels, among other publications, she is also a fluent, articulate speaker (she has never had stage fright). Yet, without warning, as she opened her mouth, she

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