Typical Gemini, with the concentration span of a gnat & not one for sitting still. My old Da used to say that "you're a long time dead". So my mantra is get busy living.Please join me for more at
Published March 22nd 2019
This memoir opens with a quote from John Wayne which sets the tone appropriately: - "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway".
Caro Llewellyn is a successful author of several non-fiction books, and Director of numerous Literary Festivals, both at home in Australia and abroad. Jogging through New York's Central Park, she loses feeling in her legs. Forty-eight hours later she is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) a chronic, neurodegenerative condition that affects the central nervous system.
What makes this so traumatic is that Caro has survived a childhood marred by having a father confined to life in a wheelchair. At twenty years of age, Richard Llewellyn contracted Polio, though remains positive and determined, to the point where he flirts with his nurse whilst in an Iron Lung and ends up marrying her.
This disability doesn't prevent Richard from working and the Llewellyn's open a successful art gallery, whilst bringing up two young children. Taking its toll on Caro's mother, this leads to the disintegration of the family unit. Ultimately, this leads to a successful life for each of the parents with the father receiving an Order of Australia for his Disability Advocacy work, and mother finding herself as a mature age student and becoming the renowned Poet and Author, Kate Llewelyn.
Caro spends several years trying to find herself, and it is in New York, where she has finally found her niche and is relatively settled, that her life is shattered by her medical diagnosis. It is by looking back at her father's example over the years that she finally comes to terms with the shortcomings of her body, overcoming them to the best of her ability
I found this book bordering the depressing side whilst at the same time totally compelling. To make such worthwhile lives out of such grim circumstances is amazing, though it does come at an emotional cost for Caro.
The voyeur in me was also fascinated with Caro's relationships with men and her career choices. No tradies or public servants on her horizon: she mixed it with political activists, music entrepreneurs, and writers including American, Phillip Roth. With her writing and job role presenting numerous Literary events around the world, is this the true legacy of strong, audacious parents, I wondered?
* Published by Penguin Random House Australia Pty Ltd in 2019 and available in all good bookstores.