Keeper by Andrea Gillies
One House, Three Generations, and a Journey into Alzheimer's

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Synopsis

Five years ago, Andrea Gillies— writer, wife, and mother of three—seeing that her husband's parents were struggling to cope, invited them to move in.  She and her newly extended family relocated to a big Victorian house on a remote, windswept peninsula in the far north of Scotland, leaving behind their friends and all that was familiar;  hoping to find a new life, and new inspiration for work.

Her mother-in-law Nancy was in the middle stages of Alzheimer's Disease, and Keeper charts her journey into dementia, its impact on her personality and her family, and the author's researches into what dementia is.   As the grip of her disease tightens, Nancy's grasp on everything we think of as ordinary unravels before our eyes. Diary entries and accounts of conversations with Nancy track the slow unravelling.  The journey is marked by frustration, isolation, exhaustion, and unexpected black comedy. For the author, who knew little about dementia at the outset, the learning curve was steeper than she could have imagined. The most pernicious quality of Alzheimer’s, Gillies suggests, is that the loss of memory is, in effect, the loss of one’s self, and Alzheimer’s, because it robs us of our intrinsic self-knowledge, our ability to connect with others, and our capacity for self-expression, is perhaps the most terrible and most dehumanizing illness. Moreover, as Gillies reminds us, the effects of Alzheimer’s are far-reaching, impacting the lives of caregivers and their loved ones in every way imaginable.

Keeper
is a fiercely honest “glimpse into the dementia abyss”—an endlessly engrossing meditation on memory and the mind, on family, and on a society that is largely indifferent to the far-reaching ravages of this baffling disease.


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About Andrea Gillies

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Andrea Gillies has worked as a writer and editor. She was praised by the New York Times as a "gorgeous writer" for her first book, the memoir Keeper, which won the Orwell Prize and the Wellcome Trust Book Prize.
 
Published August 17, 2010 by Three Rivers Press. 338 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Professional & Technical, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Keeper

Kirkus Reviews

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In her debut, journalist Gillies strikingly chronicles her slow disintegration as she struggled to nurse a mother-in-law stricken with Alzheimer's disease.

Aug 03 2010 | Read Full Review of Keeper: One House, Three Gene...

Los Angeles Times

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In this Alzheimer's chronicle out of Scotland, a daughter-in-law writes forthrightly about the challenges presented by this disease.

Aug 29 2010 | Read Full Review of Keeper: One House, Three Gene...

Bookmarks Magazine

Moreover, as Gillies reminds us, the effects of Alzheimer’s are far-reaching, impacting the lives of caregivers and their loved ones in every way imaginable.

Keeper is a fiercely honest “glimpse into the dementia abyss”—an endlessly engrossing meditation on memory and the mind, on f...

Sep 01 2010 | Read Full Review of Keeper: One House, Three Gene...

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