Keeper: Living with Nancy – a journey into Alzheimer’s by Andrea Gillies (Short Books) has won the inaugural Wellcome Book Prize (2009). The prize “celebrates the best of medicine in literature by awarding £25,000 each year for the finest fiction or non-fiction book centred around medicine.”
I read this unassuming paperback in the summer and was blown away with its emotional depth and by the literary quality of Gillies’ writing. I’ve reviewed it for print and will post a link on the ‘reviews’ page once it’s published. Meantime, here’s what the publisher says of Keeper:
Andrea Gillies made the decision to take on the full-time care of her mother-in-law, Nancy, an Alzheimer’s sufferer. With her family, she moved to a remote peninsula in northern Scotland to a house with space to accommodate Nancy and her elderly husband, and there embarked on an extraordinary journey.
Keeper describes the emotional strain of living with Alzheimer’s, the trials faced by both sufferer and carer, when patience and obligations are pushed to the limit. The book is also a brilliantly illuminating examination of the disease itself. It explores the brain and consciousness, and tackles profound questions about the self, the soul and how memory informs who we are. [Short Books]
In awarding the Book Prize the Wellcome Trust considered Keeper to be “a very humane and honest exploration of living with Alzheimer’s giving an illuminating account of the disease itself”. Jo Brand, who chaired the judging panel said at the award’s ceremony:
“Andrea Gillies’ account of living with Alzheimer’s is the perfect fusion of narrative with enough memorable science not to choke you. It’s a fantastic book – down to earth and darkly comic in places. The judges found it compelling”.
Link HERE to go to the Wellcome Trust Book Prize website