Category death &dying

Where Memories Go Sally Magnusson Magnus Magnusson dementia Alzheimer'sWhere Memories Go, the brilliant and moving account of how Scottish broadcaster and author Sally Magnusson and her family cared for her mother Mamie during her long struggle with dementia, comes out in February 2014.

With Sally’s help we have created a Facebook page for the book. Our aim is to make it the place to find out more about Sally, her mother and the book; but also a forum for people who are affected, directly or indirectly, by dementia. The page is already up and running and we would be very grateful if you could take a look, like it and share it with your friends:

A little more info on the book…

Where Memories Go Sally Magnusson Magnus Magnusson dementia Alzheimer'sRegarded as one of the finest journalists of her generation, Mamie Baird Magnusson‘s whole life was a celebration of words – words that she fought to retain in the grip of a disease which

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is fast becoming the scourge of the 21st century. Married to writer and broadcaster Magnus Magnusson, they had five children of whom Sally is the eldest. As well as chronicling the anguish, the frustrations and the unexpected laughs and joys that she and her sisters experienced while accompanying their beloved mother on the long dementia road for eight years until her death in 2012, Sally Magnusson seeks understanding from a range of experts and asks penetrating questions about how we treat older people, how we can face one of the greatest social, medical, economic and moral challenges of our times, and what it means to be human.


BBC 2 Scotland will air Iain Banks last interview tonight. Iain was interviewed by BBC broadcaster and Two Roads author Kirsty Wark. You can take a sneak peek here:

Iain Banks: Raw

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Spirit will be broadcast on BBC2 Scotland tonight, Wednesday 12 June, at 21:00, and for a week afterwards on the BBC iPlayer. If you don’t live in Scotland, you can still access the programme on Sky (channel 970).

More info on the BBC Scotland website.

Guest blogger: Richard Pike, Rights Manager

Suite Francaise Irene NemirovskySuite Française is a book that had been on my reading list for several years.  I’d heard it being talked about so often, that I suppose I understood its importance without ever really knowing what it’s about.  When I saw it would be the subject of discussion at the seventh Two Roads Book Club, I thought it time to discover what makes this novel such an enduring topic of conversation.

Irène Némirovsky was already a successful author when, in 1941, she started to plan an ambitious new project – a 1,000 page novel in five parts, a symphonic story of the lives of the French under occupation.  Tragically the novel would remain unfinished.  Némirovsky, of Russian and Jewish descent, was taken under arrest to the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1942.  She died, at the age of 39, in August that same year.

The manuscript for the first movements of Suite Française, as well as notes for the final three parts (including, poignantly, ‘Peace’) were undiscovered until the late nineties, when Némirovsky’s daughter began typing up her mother’s writing in order to preserve it.  You can guess what happened next.  An incredible story appeared once more on the page, and in 2004 Suite Française was published for the first time. As Will had mentioned in his letter, the book’s very existence was a remarkable story in its own right.

The uncompleted novel is divided in to two parts.  The first, ‘Storm in June’, set in 1940, follows several characters as they flee Paris and make their way in the chaos that ensues. The second, ‘Dolce’, tells the story of the residents of Bussy, a small town coming to terms with life under German occupation for the third time.

As Will had guessed, we found it impossible to discuss Suite Française without referring to the context in which it was written.  Némirovsky describes events so recent in her memory, that it’s hard not to see the novel as a semi-historical document of France at that time.  For many of us it invited us to reconsider what we thought we knew about the Second World War, and we found a greater appreciation of how different people’s experiences of war could be.

Despite their terrible situation, we collectively felt little sympathy for many of the characters in the book, especially those from the higher levels of society, whose true nature is exposed when their behaviour is contrasted with the simply described suffering of the lower classes. It’s an interesting study of human character under duress, with events such as the Péricands forgetting to bring an elderly family member with them as they flee, or the wealthy Charles Langelet stealing fuel from unsuspecting refugees, helping to create a quite damning conclusion.

We also questioned how we ourselves would react under occupation. It may seem easy to pass judgment on the villagers of Bussy and others for their acceptance of the occupation, but when we were each put on the spot, several of us admitted that we would have acted similarly.  When so much of our identity is defined by our relationships, our homes, our career, is it really so simple to give up everything for something as uncertain as resistance?

We also touched upon how different life would have been in a world without twenty-four hour news and Twitter.  The fear and uncertainty that those fleeing Paris would have been multiplied by their not knowing what was really happening in the rest of France.

This is a book of many themes, too many for us to discuss in the space of one hour, but the beauty of Némirovsky’s writing is that the author’s own opinions or agenda are never overbearing or explicit.  Her narrative, in the style of the very best documentaries, prompts and provokes, but leaves the reader to draw their own conclusions.

And so this meeting of the Two Roads Book Club drew to a close.  As with all unfinished works of art, it’s easy to wonder ‘what might have been’. We were certainly left with the feeling that there was more to come after the slower pace of ‘Dolce’.  However, I think we did all appreciate the merits of what does exist.

The group was split when considering whether we would read more of the author’s work, but we all agreed that Suite Française challenged us to think again about a period that we had thought we understood well, and that the book’s very existence was a quite remarkable and important story in itself.

Guest blogger: Natalie Taylor, author of Signs of Life

Read the original post on Natalie’s blog, Signs of (real) Life.

Natalie Taylor, Signs of LifeToday, June 17, 2011, marks the four-year anniversary of my husband’s passing. Josh Taylor died suddenly when he was 27 years old and expecting his first child. To any of us who were close to him, he is never far from our every thought. But today is a distinctly different day. Anniversaries of any kind, good or bad, whether we like them or not, force us to think about how far we’ve come or how little ground we’ve made, how much time has passed or how slowly it has gone by, and at least for me, I always think about where we were before this day ever became an anniversary of a life lost, when June 17 was just another day. Now, however, June 17 carries a weight.

Every year I fear this time of year more than any other, and for some reason, I have a huge relief when it has passed. And every year I ask myself, what should I do on this day and on the days that surround it? What is an appropriate way to honor his memory and help myself through these long hours? In years past, I spend time with my family and friends. We prepare and eat a meal together. I spend time alone going through pictures. I spend time with Kai. All of these things seem to be the only thing I can do. But this year, for the first time, I’ve added one more thing to my list.

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