I started reading this book on 30th December. I finished on 1st Jan, but decided I shall record it as the last book I read for 2006.
It’s hard to describe what I thought of this book. But I shall try nonetheless.
The first half of the book was about grief postponed. The author included many medical terms while trying to figure out if there was something, anything she or even her late husband could have done. She finally concluded that John was already living on borrowed time, after the pacemaker was installed. She did less of this while describing the harrowing account involving Quintana, their only daughter who was hospitalized due to an infection that morphed into sepsis shock. John died while Quintana was in a coma. As Joan noted, Quintana held on, but John let go and she couldn’t help but feel angry at John in the course of her mourning.
The last half of the book the author talked about how she froze her own life the first year after her husband’s death. Her sense of timing was based on the calendar year before her husband’s death. What they did the same time last year, who they met, where they had dinner, the last few hours of his life when he remarked his life was essentially worthless (or something to that effect, I am not quoting ad verbatim).
The last half of the book made me cry. Her loss and longing were things I could immediately relate to. All in all, this book was not an easy read. But one thing Joan Didion achieved particularly well, was how never once did I think she was carrying on out of self-pity. Her account was an honest portrayal of grief, how the living make peace with the dead and the loved one now departed. Definitely a fitting finale to all the works I’ve read throughout the year.