An unflinching and insightful book which deals with Alzheimer’s from the viewpoint of the eponymous Alice. Well written and factually correct, the author’s Neuroscience background lends a sensitive yet unsentimental voice to the effects of early onset Alzheimer’s.
The story centres around Alice Howland, a fifty year old psychology professor at Harvard and a renowned expert in linguistics, with a successful husband and three grown children. When she begins to grow forgetful and disoriented, she dismisses it for as long as she can until a tragic diagnosis changes her life – and her relationship with her family and the world around her – for ever.
As the disease progresses, we see the frustration, the despair and the loneliness of Alice, as she moves inexorably apart from the world she knows and has inhabited all her life. We see the bewilderment and sadness of her children, the grief and occasional irritation – even anger – of her husband, and the embarrassment of colleagues, who simply don’t know what to say to her. Alice struggles to find meaning and purpose as her concept of self gradually slips away. But Alice is a remarkable woman, and her family learn more about her and each other in their quest to hold on to the Alice they know. Her memory hanging by a frayed thread, she is living in the moment, living for each day. But she is still Alice.
A wonderful celebration of the complexities of the human mind – heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure – a fascinating and invaluable read for anyone dealing with the disease.