Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A Year on Planet Alzheimer (and a little longer in Canada) by Carolyn Steele

BUY-UK
BUY-US

We’ve all thought about doing something completely (I do mean completely) different at some point in our lives. I suspect that for most of us, the thought takes up temporary residence in our minds before life’s nitty gritty sends it on its merry way. For others, the thought lingers and changes from a ‘how about’ to a ‘why not’. In Carolyn’s case, the ‘why not’ developed into ‘let’s do it’. And that’s how she found herself in Canada, caring for an Alzheimer’s sufferer, Zuscha for twelve months. 

Carolyn, a single mum, and her young son, Ben, spent a year and a bit far away from their native country (England). She put pen to paper during her time there (figuratively speaking, of course; it was more like finger to key, but that just doesn’t have the same ring to it) and writes about her life there. In her delightfully lighthearted and comic way, she expresses her opinions about her newfound countrymen, and the way Canadians live their lives. She’s sometimes bemused, sometimes irritated, sometimes delighted, and often overawed by the people and her surroundings; all of this is superbly conveyed. 


Her job was not an easy one, but Carolyn has a tremendous sense of humour and a very patient young son. They both made friends easily and made the most of their time off to explore what they could of this unfamiliar country. If ever a book made me want to visit a place, Carolyn certainly did a wonderful job of selling Canada to me. Unintentionally, I believe. I think she wrote to provide a lasting memento of what she thought would be a lifetime experience. As it happens she not only sold Canada to me, she sold it very convincingly to herself and is now resident there. 

There is a wonderful glossary at the end of the book; not for the British reader, but for the Canadian audience, explaining some of our (to some) quirky words and phrases. Even I, a Brit, learnt something new: I really didn’t know who Crystal Tipps was. 

Carolyn’s style is somewhat casual and free, but this was a wonderfully funny, sometimes touching, very entertaining diary of a ‘gap’ year. Don’t miss it. 

5 comments:

  1. Wow, this really does sound like a fascinating read. Being on a "Let's do it" journey myself, and currently living through the experience of watching a loved one fade because of Alzheimer's, your review sparked my interest. I'll definitely be taking a closer look at Carolyn's book. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Cathy.

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    1. Thank you, Mike. I have every confidence you'll love it.

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  2. I finished reading this last night and loved it. As my dad has dementia I could recognise much of what went on on 'Planet Alzheimer'. I read it after reading Carolyn's book Trucking in English, which is also a great read. I have no interest in trucking, no ambitions to be a trucker in UK never mind Canada yet this hooked me from the start.

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    1. Trucking is next to be read...I'm looking forward to it!

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  3. So glad to read that you enjoyed it. Oddly enough it was written as a travel book but so many people have said that it resonated with their experiences of dementia that I now have a 'proper' dementia book fighting to get out.

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