Title: A Misted Mirror
Author: Gillian Jones
Publisher: Proverse Hong Kong; 1st edition (22 Nov 2011)
Reviewer: Jane Brown, patient safety advisor, Worcestershire Acute NHS Trust
What was it like?
The book is written by a courageous woman. She turns her life and experiences into this fictional book - A Misted Mirror.
Essentially this is the story of a man who sadly died of dementia/Parkinson’s and his wife who wrote the story of their life together. This is admirably written in fiction as “Sarah and David”.
It has the melancholy echoes of Sylvia Plath, as the book is about poetry written so wonderfully by David.
It is about memories of life before drawing the reader to the caring of a person suffering from dementia/Parkinson’s, we as carers sometimes forget that the person has not always been in this condition and have had a rich tapestry of life. How did that person get to this part in their life? They are still people with interests, needs and feelings.
It is an emotional journey of David’s life and ultimately his second marriage to Sarah.
How often do we nurse a patient with dementia, without knowing the “real” person?
There was a part within the book, where a carer professed to know more about the person and dementia than his wife Sarah. That struck a real cord within me - we don’t always know everything – we are not always the experts we think we are, and sometimes we need to reach out to the loved ones to find out more.
It is written in a way that the reader has to read on to the end. It is sad, thought provoking, but not depressing.
What were the highlights?
It gives the reader time to reflect on how to care for a patient suffering from dementia. For anyone in a relationship, it gives food for thought and how we respond to our partners and life is for living today.
It highlights that dementia is complex and in reading this, gives us an opportunity to step back to think and reflect.
Strengths & weaknesses:
It is a book once you pick up you cannot put down; it is easy to read, it tells a story. The poetry adds to this and makes for a wonderful read. Even if the reader is not familiar with poetry, this is poetry that is understandable and readable.
Perhaps for anyone in the position of having a loved one suffering dementia/Parkinson’s, at the beginning of this journey the book could have contained some helpful websites or advice on where to go for help. It is a minor point – the book was not intended as a self help manual.
Who should read it?
Everyone caring for a dementia patient must read this book. I would like to see this on a student nurse reading list or in a junior doctor induction; it should be accessible in hospital libraries and on ward shelves. If clinical areas have journal clubs, this should be extended to reading this book and giving time for reflection.