Monday, May 21, 2012


I often see the expression “That film/play/book totally changed my life!” and I think to myself “That must have been one pretty powerful piece of writing” And then it happened to me, and I realised it isn’t necessarily about power, it’s just about the right words falling into your brain and your heart, in the right way at the time they are most needed.

The book that changed my life four months ago is “Veronica’s Nap” by Sharon Bially. It isn’t a book that will shake the world, it isn’t even one that will appeal to all people, being a very gentle chick lit book. It is  about an American woman married to a French man and living in Provence with her two year old twins. She is mired down in her husband’s expectations of her and it takes a huge effort  to break free of the comfortable inertia that has gripped her for several years. 

I started reading the book, if I am honest, because I am a serial napper and the title appealed to me. I have to say that I am eternally thankful for that seemingly random act, as that book smacked me right between the eyes and reminded me that it is possible to pull yourself out of the mire and get yourself turned in the right direction again. It isn’t that I was bogged down in peoples’ expectations of me, but I did feel very strongly that I was defined by the picture of me as a “disabled” person, someone with a serious and life-threatening illness. That is what shaped my life, my every waking moment. And I had lately realised that wasn’t the person I wanted to be, even though it was oddly comfortable. In that kind of life, you don’t have to make any effort to do anything. You can say that it’s too hard,  that I’m not well enough. I said all those things. For years.

Then I read the book and it was like a ray of brilliant light, shining through the greyness that my life had become. I realised that I did not have to be that person if I didn’t want to be. I can’t escape the illness, but it doesn’t have to define me. So two days after I read Veronica’s Nap, I got a medical referral to my local gym, thinking that I would hate it, but I’d try it anyway. I loathed exercise.

I spent ten minutes there the first day, trying out the equipment and saying I wouldn’t be back,  but thank you very much. The next day I went back, and I spent 20 minutes there. And so on. One day at a time, as they say.

Four months later, I am going to the gym every day for an hour. I walk everywhere. I have fitness equipment at home. I have muscles!  We are going on a road trip to France in ten days, riding our Harley Davidson trike, Iceni, a total of 2,500 miles. An impossibility four months ago.

In June I am doing a 5k walk in aid of cancer research. That’s just over three miles. Three miles! 


Jennie Hunt

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  1. Thanks for this well written, clear and concise review. I now want to read this book!

  2. I enjoyed reading this post. You go Jennie!