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I am, I am, I am

I am, I am, I am

This episodic account of the author's (Maggie O'Farrell) life, through 17 near death experiences, led to a lively debate among our members.  We were particularly preoccupied by the definition of 'near death', with two members feeling strongly that some of the incidents were unworthy of mention, while others felt that even the less powerful experiences evoked strong memories of their own unnerving brushes with disaster.  The dangers associated with childbirth and the strong feelings of panic when out of one's depth in water resonated particularly with us.  However, it was felt that at times the author had rummaged around in her life to find incidents and possibly the book would have had more impact if it had been several chapters shorter.  Some of our group had lost interest part way through and not finished the book, while several had enjoyed it.

The format was thought to make the book ideal as a holiday read, as it was in short story form.  Most people were agreed that the writer, well known as a novelist, has an excellent style of writing and brought each episode to life very graphically.  We felt her long battle to recover from encephalitis as a child should have been at the beginning of the book, it seemed out of place in the middle and explained clearly why she would have had such a heightened awareness of her own and her children's mortality.  The final chapter was an account of her daughter's severe eczema and multiple life threatening allergies.  While very moving, it was felt, by those who were already sceptical about the book, to be inappropriate, as it was not directly about the author herself and was rather contrived as an ending.  Opinions were very much divided on the book, but a majority felt it was a worthwhile and thought provoking read.

Review by Barbara Marsh