Jane O'Grady

Life after Memory

What Dementia Teaches Us About Love

By

Allen Lane 254pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

clear sign that Shakespeare’s Gertrude is unmoved by her husband’s death is how facilely philosophical she is about it. ‘Thou know’st ’tis common all that live must die,’ she declaims to the grieving Hamlet. ‘Why seems it so particular with thee?’ For Nicci Gerrard, her beloved father’s decline into dementia and his eventual death are indeed sharply ‘particular’, but in What Dementia Teaches Us About Love she manages to combine the intensely personal with the universal, and to be philosophical in both senses. From the particularities of the dementia sufferers and their carers whom she meets, and from visiting care homes and interviewing medical experts, she gains a sense of the tragic nobility of ageing and develops a hard-won stoicism. In this book she philosophises on the nature of not just dementia but also life, death, ageing, euthanasia and what it is to be human.

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

    • 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… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,