Title: An Extra Pair of Hands – A Story of Caring, Ageing and Everyday Acts of Love

Author: Kate Mosse

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

The Blurb

As our population ages, more and more of us find ourselves caring for parents and loved ones _ some 8.8 million people in the UK. An invisible army of carers holding families together. 

Here, Kate Mosse tells her personal story of finding herself as a carer in middle age: first, helping her mother look after her beloved father through Parkinson’s, then supporting her mother in widowhood, and finally as ‘an extra pair of hands’ for her 90-year-old mother-in-law.

This is a story about the gentle heroism of our carers, about small everyday acts of tenderness, and finding joy in times of crisis. It’s about juggling priorities, mind-numbing repetition, about guilt and powerlessness, about grief, and the solace of nature when we’re exhausted or at a loss. It is also about celebrating older people, about learning to live differently _ and think differently about ageing. 

But most of all, it’s a story about love.

The Review

I have read a few Kate Mosse books, loved her Languadoc Trilogy so when I saw that she had released a non fiction book, I won’t lie to you, I was intrigued. Especially when I saw its association with the Wellcome Collection. I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed.

In An Extra Pair of Hands Kate Mosse explored what it is like to become a carer for those who has once cared for you. Having gone through this myself recently I say it is the moment you become an actual adult. You may have a mortgage, a car, be married and even have kids of your own but when your parents become your responsibility the whole axis of your world goes of kilter. And it is terrifying.

Mosse explore this so well in her book looking at the practicalities of looking after a parent, taking control of things you never had to do before but mainly she looks at the emotional side of things both of you as the carer and the parent whose loss of independence and having to rely on others can be hard to accept.

The one thing that Mosse does stress is that through all the hard times and though you may feel really negative about becoming a carer at certain points (we are all human) that it is an absolute privilege to be able to give back to those who have given to us.

An Extra Pair of Hands is a heartbreaking yet uplifting read.

An Extra Pair of Hands – A Story of Caring, Ageing and Everyday Acts of Love by Kate Mosse is available now.

For more information regarding Kate Mosse (@katemosse) please visit www.katemosse.co.uk.

For more information regarding Serpent’s Tail (@serpentstail) please visit www.serpentstail.com.

Title: Breaking and Mending – A Junior Doctor’s Stories of Compassion and Burnout

Author: Joanna Cannon

Pages: 160 Pages

Publisher: Wellcome Collection

The Blurb

“A few years ago, I found myself in A&E.

I had never felt so ill. I was mentally and physically broken. So fractured, I hadn’t eaten properly or slept well, or even changed my expression for months. I sat in a cubicle, behind paper-thin curtains and I shook with the effort of not crying. I was an inch away from defeat… but I knew I had to carry on.

Because I wasn’t the patient. I was the doctor.”

In this powerful memoir, Joanna Cannon tells her story as a junior doctor in visceral, heart-rending snapshots.

We walk with her through the wards, facing extraordinary and daunting moments: from attending her first post-mortem, sitting with a patient through their final moments, to learning the power of a well- or badly chosen word. These moments, and the small sustaining acts of kindness and connection that punctuate hospital life, teach her that emotional care and mental health can be just as critical as restoring a heartbeat.

In a profession where weakness remains a taboo, this moving, beautifully written book brings to life the vivid, human stories of doctors and patients – and shows us why we need to take better care of those who care for us.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I am not a monogamous reader. I cheat on my books all the time. It is very rare for me to sit down with one book and pore through it from beginning to end but that is exactly what happened when I picked up Joanna Cannon’s Breaking and Mending.

I spend a lot of time at hospitals due to my Colitis but Joanna Cannon made me feel like I was a junior doctor experiencing the highs and lows of hospital life along with her. I broke down along with the author and I fell for patients and their families. I had a lot of respect for those who work in hospitals before (from porters to surgeons) but after reading this book my levels of respect has grown exponentially.

With the NHS in such a precarious state and with the lifeblood of it being sucked out by money hungry politicians then books like Breaking and Mending, books that offer real life experiences inside the hospital walls are more than entertainment. They are necessary. They are important.

If you buy just one book this year then please make it Breaking and Mending.

Breaking and Mending – A Junior Doctor’s Stories of Compassion and Burnout by Joanna Cannon is available now.

For more information regarding Joanna Cannon (@JoannaCannon) please visit www.joannacannon.com.

For more information regarding Wellcome Collection (@ExploreWellcome) please visit www.wellcomecollection.org.