‘I was both fascinated and moved by your five-act exploration of images, birdsong and a ‘fractured’ mind. … I had suspected that first hand experience lay behind it ... but that has been transmuted into something rather fine – in part because you write well, but also because a really creative imagination shines through, giving shape to your belief in the power of images to transform the world we live in.’
Martin Warner (general editor, Ashgate Philosophy series. Associate fellow University of Warwick).)
‘Compelling and exquisitely written … you have made me switch my mind on!’
Avril Moore, artist.
‘It is of course impossible to know what happens in the mind of another individual but this novel allows a glimpse of what it might be like to suffer from dementia, and also shows the impact of this devastating illness on one particular family.
Increasingly medical schools are using films and novels to help students understand the effects of illnesses on patients and their families, and works such as this are able to give a different perspective than that gained from a traditional medical education.
However this novel will be enjoyed by those who want to read about the things that moulded the life of one man, of his ancestry and how his life and final years impacted on those around him.’
Dr Chris Vassilas, MD, FRCPsych, Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry
Author of ‘Dementia and Literature’ - (Chapter 10 - in Mind readings – Literature and Psychiatry’, ed. Femi Oyebode).
'Thought provoking and challenging – this book deserves an audience.'
Andy Fletcher, poet. ‘The Mile Long Piano’
‘You’ve taken on an enormous imaginative task, to enter into the mind of a man with Alzheimer’s, and it’s greatly to your credit that it feels that you have succeeded. What’s more the mind that you have entered is a very particular mind, one that operates, as the book does, at the interface of art and science, looking at the world as Seurat and his unwilling mentor did, albeit viewing it from the other direction.’
The late Barry Letts, film director/producer.
Well-researched subject and accomplished writing. Illuminating and original. The hypothesis on the workings of an Alzheimer's sufferer's mind is moving and thought-provoking. This is a detailed and scholarly examination of mental deterioration from the inside, as it were. Anyone with a loved one suffering from this disease will find this novel instructive and perhaps even helpful.
This is a beautifully written novel full of imaginative thoughts regarding the many aspects of human life. Essentially it is about a man, Ralph, in the throes of increasing dementia and his attempt before it engulfs his mind completely - the blue-grey island - to make sense of the illness and his family history; both integral parts of a network of connections once meaningful to him and who he is.
There is a plethora of ideas in the work concerned with the human condition, science, spirituality, life's purpose, illness and frailty. For me the book juxtaposes the seemingly endless connections and links between us as human beings with each other and with the universe, alongside a man's gradual loosening and ultimately apparent severing of biological, psychological and social connections as his dementia takes over.
It should be a sad book to read, and perhaps in subject matter it might be seen as such, but it also holds much hope in that whilst Ralph personally recedes his life's connections remain - the love and connected life of his wife, daughter and other relations, his thoughtful carer, Ruth, his life's work and personal history all remain intact, held by dint of having happened.
For me it is paradoxically an uplifting novel in that while as individuals we will inevitably die, we also live beyond in others' memories, encapsulating our life and who we are, passed on and left behind. The Blue- Grey Island doesn't succeed in taking Ralph's essence.