The Longest Farewell By Nula Suchet
Paperback published by Seren Books
Dementia crept early into the life of James Black,insidious and unannounced. The result was a long farewell to him as he changed from a happy and successful film maker into a completely dependent care home resident, and a stranger to his wife Nula.
Yet after seven stressful years, Nula’s life unexpectedly changed when she met a man whose wife was also a dementia patient in the home. Her friendship with John Suchet became a relationship, but theirs is a different road. There is joy, but also despair and guilt. Is even a moment of happiness allowed when their loved ones are in a slow decline towards death? Theirs is a story that plumbs the depth but also reaches a happiness that they thought they would never experience.
When Nula’s husband James, a British documentary filmmaker, becomes forgetful they put it down to the stress of his work. But his behavior becomes more erratic and inexplicable, and he is eventually diagnosed as suffering from Picks Disease, an early onset and aggressive form of dementia. Suddenly their lives change from comfortable middle-class creatives through inexplicable behaviour, the shock of diagnosis, coping with the ongoing illness, not coping with the illness, to the indignities of care home life.
The Longest Farewell is a moving description of James utter mental and physical deterioration, and the effect that it had both on him and on the people from whom he was involuntarily retreating, particularly Nula. Her life is completely taken over by James illness: her frustration at trying to cope, her guilt at having to hand over his care to professionals in England, are just part of her at times harrowing story.
With James in care and left with seemingly little to do but wait for his death, Nula meets Bonnie, another resident at the care home suffering from the same condition. In turn she meets Bonnie’s husband, the broadcaster John Suchet and the similarity of their positions becomes a bond between them. After the deaths of James and Bonnie, and some guilt-induced false starts, Nula’s story takes a bitter-sweet turn: they become partners, and eventually marry. The Longest Farewell is a heartfelt yet inspiring account of dealing with dementia, and of unexpectedly finding a happy ending.
The Longest Farewell is one those books full sadness that I have ever read. I wanted to read The Longest Farewell about James suffering from dementia, as I can relate to what Nula tells us as my own father is suffering from dementia. It was heartbreaking reading what Nula went through, being the sole earner as James couldn’t work, not been able to leave James alone in the house, and her marriage to the man she loves, life had cruelly taken that away from her. This is the most saddest of real life stories that rips your heart out
With reading Nula’s story I decided I would reveal the truth in why I wanted to read The Longest Farewell. It’s heartbreaking just like James, who didn’t know who his wife was, my own father with Dementia didn’t know who I was.
James didn’t do his script writing any more because he didn’t remember that’s what his job was, with Pick Desease that’s an aggressive form of dementia.
I was please for Nula in finding John whose wife also suffered from dementia at the Samecare home where James was resident at.
MY THANKS TO
I would like to thank Kelly @LoveBooksTours for sending the book The Longest Farewell to read and review and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour today.
Nula Suchet was born in Ireland, part of a large family. After a difficult early life she became an interior designer who worked internationally in the UK, Europe and the US. Now retired, she lives in London with her husband, the broadcaster John Suchet, who she met in the care home where their spouses were being cared for with dementia. Her book, The Longest Farewell, on dealing with her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak that came with it is available now.