It's interesting to read the reviews of this book because they are so polarized. Obviously, you either love this book or you really deplore it. I am one who deplored it. I could not even finish listening to it. And being an intensely frugal person, I TRIED to listen to it so as not to waste my money--but the yawn factor outweighed the waste factor exponentially.
I have lost people I loved and have gone through the grieving process--but I still couldn't relate to this book. Expounding every minute detail that transpired after a loss isn't scintillating reading material. It's belly-button-lint-picking--and that's not worth my time or my money.
Not especially interesting or compelling. Actually rather boring for the most part. I don't really get why this book was on so many top 10 books of the year lists. Maybe there is something I am missing, because I couldn't relate to her issues at all. Lots of sad tales about her going back & forth from the hospital to the Beverly Willshire Hotel (boo hoo). Also she is so surprised her husband drops dead of a cardiac arrest after he has heart disease for 20 years and has a pacemaker in. Don't mean to be callous, but didn't you see this coming? Even the husband said he knew how he was going to die (heart attack).
This book is a first person account of the grieving process of one woman, including the (she feels) unaccountable lapses in her ability to trust her own mind, and a gradual return to a more steady and "normal" state of mind.
There is no epiphany, where the author realizes that her life can begin anew, just a return to normalcy and sanity. We are with her every step of the way.
A novellist might have made the ending more dramatic, some great rebirth, but this story is more true in that life goes on; sadder and richer for the loss, but able to contain joy again and with an ability not to mark every day by what happened before the awful event.
Some have said that her wealth is distracting, well, her daily life was full of exactly what she wrote. I think it would have been disingenuous to fill the book with details from a less wealthy life or to leave out the details. She wrote what she did, what she saw, what she felt and how she struggled to be in control of the uncontrollable processes of life and death.
This book made me cry.
This book is a poor excuse for a memoir. The story is too fragmented to follow while I drive on the highway in the car. Don't even bother listening to this in the City. There is too much scatter brained thinking in this one, and any of the intresting parts get trumped by her in-ability to stay to any point for more than 2 minutes.
A wonderful narrator takes us through the terrible year of tragedies for Joan Didion, who beautifully highlights what it means to live and experience human emotions. This was a book I could not stop, and indeed listened to several chapters over again to only to enjoy the haunting pace and voice of Ms Didion. Exceptional work.
Was prepared to really get into this but it just started getting really flat toward the middle. Written in a way that makes you feel the author feels no one has ever had a loved one die. In the end brings very little to the table. Skip it and go have lunch with your grandma or mom.
This book tackles the experience of loss in a thoughtful way. The author focuses on her personal experience, but at times draws from the broader literature to seek universality in her experience. The book has some wonderful moments, and some thought-provoking insights. However, the book also has some very tedious sections. As I approached the last two hours of the book, I decided I did not want to finish it. I found myself listening to various podcasts rather than slog through the rest of the book.
One thing that struck me was how rarified a life the author had. Of course, she was a successful author, which guarantees she is not in the mainstream of American life. But there were a few references that exemplified the lack of commonality between her life and mine. For example, she found an old Emily Post book on etiquette, and discussed the value of the guidance given to those whose friends had been bereaved: bring bland foods, don't let the bereaved be alone, how to handle calling hours, etc. This advice was appropriate for friends of an older widow who did not have a job, financial problems, or significant family responsibilities. The situation for most of those bereaved at the time Emily Post wrote her advice was different. Most families did not have bereavement leave, widowhood often brought financial ruin, and the large number of farming families still had to care for their land. Didion's reference to this bit of upper-class etiquette is fitting, because Didion did not have to work, and quite frankly could allow herself a year to fret about the experience of widowhood.
So... I enjoyed parts of the book, but not enough to finish it. I would have liked the book to be about 3 hours shorter, which could have been achieved with tighter editing in the written material. I don't dis-recommend it, but there are many books I've enjoyed a lot more this year.
I deeply admire Joan Didion, but I don't quite understand how this book garnered as much attention and praise as it did. It is a memoir about how she survived the tragic death of her husband and the devastating illness (and later death) of her daughter. She survived it, it seems, by writing this diary - by writing her way into and out of it. Particularly lovely is her tribute to her late husband, her description of their life together and her life without him. She does well at capturing some of the moments of disorientation and loneliness that came with all of this. It is not, however, her most literary nor her most intelligent of works; alternatively, it is not a guide to grieving or recovering from loss.
Avid reader my whole life - addicted to audio. I listen to books & podcasts while working, driving, sleeping......
I made it through 4 hours of this one before pulling out my earbuds in exasperation. I couldn't take the high-society cerebral musings and endless quoting of other writers and artists. I waited for something semi-interesting to happen but it never did and the narration wasn't enough to carry it alone. Don't waste a credit on this dud.