Susan Midalia's review
Abi Morgan is in an award-winning screen writer, and This is Not a Pity Memoir is her first book. As its title suggests, it confronts harrowing personal experience with enduring resilience and fortitude. When Morgan’s actor partner Jakob, who has been living with MS for years, has a sudden, inexplicable collapse, life for Morgan, their two children and other loved ones is irrevocably changed.
Morgan narrates the details of Jakob’s anguishing physical and neurological decline; her attempts to normalise life for their children; her determination to create moments of joy in their sadly diminished lives. The memoir is also a confronting account of the self as performer: it asks us to consider the extent to which love between a long-standing couple can become merely a series of rehearsed lines and gestures.
Written in simple but heartfelt language, the book’s honest examination of traumatic events beyond our control — Morgan’s feelings of fear, bewilderment and guilt — even the tedium of caring for the sufferer — the book is a consoling reminder that reading can help us feel less alone.
One morning in June, Abi had her to-do list - drop the kids to school, get coffee and go to work. Jacob had a bad headache so she added 'pick up steroids'. She returned home and found the man she loved and fought and laughed with for twenty years lying on the bathroom floor.
And nothing would ever be the same again.
But this is not a pity memoir. It's about meeting your person. And crazed late night Google trawls. It's about the things you wished you'd said to the person that matters then wildly over-sharing with the barista who doesn't know you at all. It's about sushi and the wrong shoes and the moments you want to shout 'cut'. It's about the silence when you are lost in space and the importance of family and parties and noise.