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Publisher's Summary

I am, I am, I am is Sunday Times best seller and Costa Novel Award winner Maggie O'Farrell's electric and shocking memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated her life; it will appeal to listeners of Cheryl Strayed's Wild or Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking.

A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital.

This is a memoir with a difference: 17 encounters with Maggie at different ages, in different locations, reveal to us a whole life in a series of tense, visceral snapshots.

It is an audiobook to make you question yourself: what would you do if your life was in danger? How would you react? And what would you stand to lose?

I am, I am, I am is an audiobook you will finish newly conscious of your own vulnerability and determined to make every heartbeat count.

©2017 Maggie O'Farrell (P)2017 Headline Publishing Group Ltd

What members say

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Seldom do I want to read a book twice

What a beautifully written book - words crafted together so well and a spectacular vocabulary. Loved the pace and the tone - I am a new huge fan

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 08-30-17

'where the axe may fall'

O'Farrell’s like-no-other memoir leaves you in awe of both her frightening experiences and her brilliant writing. O'Farrell suffers from various neurological problems following a childhood illness, but as a teenager she jumps into deep water as a dare and nearly drowns because, as she well knew, she could not tell up from down. In South America a machete is held to her throat and all her travel money stolen because she and her boyfriend are in a district where travellers are warned there are armed robbers. Why does she take a 9-week old baby already raging from severe reflux (which she refused to tell the health visitor about) to rural Italy where she's left alone in a car to be rocked by thieves in their attempt to get in? She takes her 7 year-old son who can't swim on her back off the coast of Zanzibar to a post a tourist had told her was easy to reach. She finds herself in deep water and her weak arms unable to hold him. Many of these brushes with death - and there are more - seem the result of a pathological recklessness, a crazed addiction to risk, and because of this, although the experiences are terrifying, her culpability reduces your sympathy.

That is, until the later chapters when she explains the 'hinge' on which her whole life swings: as an 8-year-old she is the little girl dying from encephalitis. But she survives: she learns to walk again and do all the things which the doctors told her parents she never would. She was ALIVE and she would LIVE - the rest of her life was a massive defiant kick in the teeth for Proud Death of John Donne's poem. All the risk-taking falls into place and O'Farrell becomes truly admirable. I Am I Am I Am is understandable.

The later chapters also relate without self-pity her fearful births history - a near fatal haemorrhage following a mismanaged Caesarian and subsequent miscarriages. Also without self-pity is her detailing of daily life with her 8-year daughter who suffers from a rare immune deficiency which means that from birth she scratched her glue-dry skin to shreds and if she even goes anywhere near nuts or anywhere near where someone may have eaten nuts, she can and does fall into possibly fatal anaphylactic shock. O'Farrell's life involves heart-breaking precautions needed to keep her daughter safe for one more day. 'She IS She IS'. It tears the heart to ribbons just listening.

O'Farrell must be pleased with Daisy Donovan's beautiful narration which adds another vein to this visceral memoir. Audible is offering a free download of a to-minute interview with O'Farrell which is mainly her talking about her experiences behind her latest novel This Must Be The Place (reviewed here by me on 26th July 2016) and also provides insights into her working methods.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • The Reluctant Hermit
  • 09-25-17

Can't believe this won the Costa

I wouldn't wish any of these events on anyone but I found the book was just several short stories that failed to hold my interest. Disappointed as it got rave reviews on the radio

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  • Nicholas
  • 09-04-17

Boring

I listened to hours of this book and could take no more. Ideal for the insomniac.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Russty62
  • 02-08-18

I am, I am, I am.

Omg sorry I was loosening it, far to much to say.
Lost interest quarter of the way through, just did not hold me.

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  • Niamh
  • 01-21-18

Disappointing

I have read nearly all Maggie o Farrell ‘s books and could not believe that she could have written such a poor story, with very little continuity and the plot was all over the place. What a load of maudlin bunkum, sorry I used a credit!!

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  • Suswati
  • 01-12-18

Moving, harrowing, well-written

I Am, I Am, I Am is a memoir by award-winning British author, Maggie O'Farrell. It is subtitled Seventeen Brushes With Death, and in describing these (mostly, but not exclusively, her own) experiences, O'Farrell also, of course, shares many other important moments of her life. As well as describing the situation that led to them, the physical effects they had on her and those close to her, she also notes the change in attitude they caused.

There is a deep sense of violence faced by a woman's body, which is apparent in her experiences. She describes near misses with vehicles, a mugging, juvenile encephalitis, the birth of her first child, near drownings, a knife-throwing act, dysentery-induced dehydration, and an encounter with a murderer.

The section about her miscarriages is deeply moving. She questions why it isn't discussed and why it is given little exposure. She explains how mothers end up feeling isolated because of the little care given to those who have experienced it. Her voice and pain shines through at this particular point.

As with her fiction, O'Farrell’s prose is often exquisite. This is a privileged peek into the life of an amazing author, a moving and fascinating read.

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  • HandL
  • 12-03-17

Loved it . . .

. . . poignant and beautifully written and read . . . . . didn't want it to end.

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  • PublicName
  • 10-13-17

A fantastically written read, excellent narration

A fantastically written read; excellent narration and pace and expert suspense and attention to detail

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  • Cassandra
  • 11-20-17

Beautifully written so moving

If you read only one book in your life, read this one. So relatable. So poetic. So affirming. Tears still in my eyes.

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  • Mrs. A.M. Andrew
  • 09-04-17

Captivating

This memoir is beautifully written and read. It is a gripping account of life and near death on too many occasions for one life.