Two short NF reviews

Recovery by Dr Gavin Francis

I won this book in a giveaway hosted by Rebecca who reviewed it here – thank you!

Published by Profile Books for the Wellcome Trust, this short non fiction book is all about how we recover from illness, and the road back to good health.

Francis is a GP, and in this insightful mix of essays with a touch of memoir and wisdom from the ages, he examines all the aspects of recovery, beginning with his own in the introductory chapter after breaking a leg after being blown off his bicycle, and earlier suffering meningitis. He carries on to look at recovery in hospitals and the permission to recover granted by the sick note, before moving on to look the maxim ‘a change is as good as a rest’ which goes from travel to spas and convalescent homes plus the nature cure.

Next he discusses the ideal doctor, and quotes Anatole Broyard who, while dying of prostate cancer, desired a ‘bookish doctor’. Francis muses about this, ‘Imagine having Chekhov, who was a doctor, as your doctor.’ The final section before his conclusions is about treatment during convalescence including less conventional ones such as debt counselling for a gambling addict, and dance classes for a Parkinsons patient.

This is a thoughtful little book with much good advice within its pages.

Source: Giveaway via the publisher – thank you! Small paperback 125 pages.

BUY at Blackwell’s via my affiliate link.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

This was our book group choice for ‘W’ is for this month. It’s safe to say that we all ‘enjoyed’ the book, finding it a good read.

Raynor and her husband Moth are hit with the double whammy of losing their farm in a bad business deal being made homeless, and Moth being diagnosed with a life-limiting condition. Their children are unable to take them in, so they live in friends’ spare rooms and annexes for a while, they don’t have the money to rent, but it’s not a good way to live. Inspired by a book by a man who walked the 630-mile South West Coast Path with his dog they decide to the same, and in their 50s they begin their trek, wild camping, with just £48 per week in benefits to keep them going.

We were appalled that the British legal system could take no notice when by the time they were finally able to find evidence proving that Moth’s ‘friend’ had swindled them out of everything they owned, it was considered too late, not submitted in the proper way and thus not admissable – the verdict stood. Shame on the system!

We found them brave in the choice they made, you start off thinking them foolhardy, but what did they have to lose? Some days they went hungry, which was not nice. Sometimes, shop owners refused to fill up their water bottles, but others gave them leftovers at the end of the day. They were smelly and dishevelled, but when they could afford it, they spent a night in a campsite with showers. Few of the other hikers they met were walking any more than a short section of the path. For a large part of the time, it did Moth good, but this wasn’t always to be.

This book was eminently readable, and naturally full of strong emotion as we go up and down the cliffs literally and metaphorically with Ray and Moth. Winn writes well, capturing the landscape as well as the people that brings their journey alive. It’s good to know that they survived the ordeal, and Winn has since written the next episode of their lives, which I’m keen to read too.

Source: Own copy. Penguin paperback, 274 pages. BUY at Blackwell’s via my affiliate link.

20 thoughts on “Two short NF reviews

  1. mallikabooks15 says:

    It’s sad that the systems supposedly set up to help us often end up failing us as in the case of Ray and Moth here and the wider world as we’re witnessing.

    I like the sound of the first book as well in the range of experiences it covers

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Definitely. That was obviously the spur for him to write the book, but it’s wider than just Covid.

  2. Liz Dexter says:

    The Salt Path was really eye-opening in the way people treated them, wasn’t it, but written with joy and humour, too. I read it with my best friend over our Thursday Reading sessions and it worked well in that format.

  3. madamebibilophile says:

    These both sound excellent. Recovery is of particular interest as when I used to work in rehab people often used to ask about convalescence homes and lament that those services are very much diminished these days. As Susan says, it’s relevant with covid (and long covid) too.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      If we still had some convalescent homes, there’d be fewer beds blocked in hospital – but I can’t see that happening.

  4. MarketGardenReader/IntegratedExpat says:

    I’m currently a chapter away from the end of The Salt Path. I picked it up again this week because I’m attempting to recover from mysterious back pains and a swollen foot, trying to persuade myself that walking through the pain might just cure me. Probably not, in the case of the foot; just patience. I am flabbergasted by some of the reactions people have to Ray and Moth, most recently by the dog walker who accepted their offer of tea (possibly not expecting him to accept), then offered the next set of passers-by a cup too, so Ray and Moth have to do without. How rude can you get! The recovery book is also firmly on the wishlist. I am definitely not a good and patient invalid, though it’s a great excuse for doing nothing but reading.

  5. AnnaBookBel says:

    That was an awful episode in the book wasn’t it. I don’t think it even registered on the dog walker’s privileged brain. I hope your back and foot get better – but enjoy your reading as you recuperate!

  6. BookerTalk says:

    We seem to have lost the concept of convalescence, feeling somehow guilty that we are not being energetic and doing stuff when really all our body needs is to rest. I’m trying to tell my dad this right now – he fell 20ft down the bank from the garden, seriously wrenching his rotator cuff only a few days ago. But he’s already frustrated that he can’t do very much – he has a long way to go yet….

    Salt Path is a wonderful book. Her observations on how people reacted when her and Moth told people they were homeless, were astonishing.

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      Eek! I do hope you dad’s shoulder gets better – it’ll definitely need time, but maybe physio too perhaps? I injured my left rotator cuff falling off my motorbike in my 20s and it’s come back to haunt me – my shoulder is frozen in a couple of directions – luckily not the important ones.

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