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.
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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.