The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey
abstract: When I was first given this book the subject matter made my heart skip as I watched my grandmother deteriorate with Alzheimer’s and it could not have been more heartbreaking. She recounted full stories about her childhood, how her school had a netball court that was slanted, how my granddad sent letters when he was in the war which she posted in sequence all over the kitchen. At other times, in contrast, she couldn’t remember who my family was and would shout and scream, when she had previously never in our whole time together raised her voice. Alzheimer’s changes not only your memory but your behaviour and personality, and at times neither one of us recognised the other.
The Wilderness: A Novel (published by Nan A. Talese 2009) throws the reader into a tangled web of memories and emotions as we follow the protagonist into the uncertain depths of Alzheimer’s disease. An architect by trade, Jacob Jameson is a Lincolnshire born, half-Jewish widower in his 60s. We follow him as he delves into the puzzle of his past, trying to decipher fact from fiction.
“In amongst a sea of events and names that have been forgotten, there are a number of episodes that float with striking buoyancy to the surface. There is no sensible order to them, nor connection between them.”