#bookreview – I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell @TinderPress
Today I’m reviewing the wonderful I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell. I’m a big fan of her novels and I enjoyed this, her first foray into non-fiction, just as much. Here’s what it’s about:
I AM, I AM, I AM is a memoir with a difference – the unputdownable story of an extraordinary woman’s life in near-death experiences. Insightful, inspirational, intelligent, it is a book to be read at a sitting, a story you finish newly conscious of life’s fragility, determined to make every heartbeat count.
A childhood illness she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. Shocking, electric, unforgettable, this is the extraordinary memoir from Costa Novel-Award winner and Sunday Times bestselling author Maggie O’Farrell. It is a book to make you question yourself. What would you do if your life was in danger, and what would you stand to lose?
I AM, I AM, I AM will speak to readers who loved Cheryl Strayed’s WILD or Max Porter’s GRIEF IS THE THING WITH FEATHERS.
This is a really unique and clever approach to writing a memoir. Rather than it being the story of Maggie O’Farrell’s life, it is a series of vignettes, seventeen in fact, and each one pertains to one of the author’s brushes with death. Some are quite clearly that – serious illness, risks taken when she knew she could be putting her life in danger. Others are those times when you think: “what if that had happened a moment before/after” – the consequences don’t bear thinking about.
The one thing that really shines through here, as with all O’Farrell’s books, is the quality and beauty of the writing. And in this book she uses it to tell us, the readers, of momentous times in her life. She’s had some truly awful experiences, some health-related, some people-related and many a time when reading this book I was shaking my head in a kind of uncomprehending horror at what she went through.
I also marvelled at all she has achieved, despite various issues that arose out of her childhood illness.
I Am, I Am, I Am is a quite incredible read. So emotional, so intense, so moving and it’s hard to credit the fact that all these things happened to one person. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I’m not sure if that’s true but certainly Maggie O’Farrell seems to me to be a very strong person, a survivor. This book is just superb.
Maggie O’Farrell is the author of seven novels, AFTER YOU’D GONE, MY LOVER’S LOVER, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX, THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award, INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award, and THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Novel Award. Maggie has also written a memoir, I AM, I AM, I AM. She lives in Edinburgh.
Author photo and bio taken from the author's Amazon page.