Christine Doyle

Christine Doyle Takes the Pulse of Three Medical Memoirs

The Shaking Woman, or A History of My Nerves


Sceptre 213pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

The Woman Who Thought Too Much: A Memoir


Atlantic Books 336pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Eating Pomegranates: A Memoir of Mothers, Daughters and Genes


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?’ 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Why did the 'bold and determined' Empress Matilda never manage to become Queen regnant? Peter Marshall reviews a n… ,
    • From the Archive: Martyn Bedford on Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' ,
    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,