Still Alice is a novel that begins to answer this question. Written by American neuroscientist Lisa Genova, Still Alice is a fictionalised account of a woman who develops early-onset Alzheimer's disease at the age of 50. Alice is a successful academic, a lecturer of neuroscience at Harvard University. She leads an exhaustingly active life with a jam-packed schedule, juggling her love for her work with her commitments to her scientist husband and three grown-up children.
The book follows Alice's experiences from her initial symptoms of memory loss, which she dismisses as merely down to stress and a natural part of growing older, through to her diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. It follows her gradual decline as she continues to fight for her independence, and describes the agony of her husband's futile search for a miracle cure. Alice watches as her family struggles to handle her diagnosis, and she sees the resulting tensions and battles of will amongst her loved ones.
However, this story is really about Alice herself, and how she comes to terms with her condition. As she rapidly loses the fast-paced life she had taken for granted and experiences dementia as a patient instead of as a scientist, Alice is forced to re-evaluate her life and the things that define her.
As the disease takes hold, we see the world through Alice's eyes. It is a fragmented, lonely and unstable place, but punctuated by unexpected moments of humour and occasional flashes of striking clarity and insight.
Still Alice is a fascinating 'through the looking glass' tale that gives the reader a true sense of what it might be like to experience Alzheimer's disease first-hand. At once both heart-warming and unnerving, it is told entirely from Alice's point of view. The story is carefully woven to ensure that the reader still has a hint of what is getting lost in translation. Still Alice is engaging, informative and enjoyably thought-provoking. It also represents a valuable step forwards in the drive to raise public awareness of Alzheimer's disease and dementia, a crucial aspect in the fight to defeat these devastating conditions.
Review by Anne Corbett, Research Communications Officer at Alzheimer's Society
Still Alice is published by Simon and Shuster (isbn is 978-1-84737-523-0) and it is available in all good book shops priced at £12.99.
In this section
- Book Review
- And still the music plays: stories of people with dementia
- Selfish Pig's Guide to Caring
- Involving families in care homes
- Alzheimer's and other dementias: Answers at your fingertips
- The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
- Lavender Blues by Doris Corti
- Contented Dementia written by Oliver James
- Conversation starters
- Excellence in Dementia Care:Research into practice
- Alzheimer's - Caring for your loved one, caring for yourself by Sharon Fish Mooney
- Take me home: Parkinson's, My Father, Myself by Jonathan Taylor
- The Smell of Chocolate by Barbara McGuire
- You are here: Still Alice
- Knickers in the Fridge
- Ice cream in the cupboard by Pat Moffett
- Recommended reads
- A good read
- Book reviews - November 2010
- Book reviews - December 2010
- Keeping Mum: Caring for someone with dementia by Marianne Talbot