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Many Different Kinds of Love: A story of life, death and the NHS Paperback – 31 Mar. 2022
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The instant Sunday Times top ten bestseller
A Guardian Book of the Year
An Evening Standard Book of the Year
An Independent Book of the Year
Netgalley's non-fiction Book of the Year
A national treasure's journey to the brink and back.
'Will I wake up?'
'There's a 50:50 chance.'
Michael Rosen wasn't feeling well. Soon he was struggling to breathe, and then he was admitted to hospital, suffering from coronavirus as the nation teetered on the edge of a global pandemic.
What followed was months on the wards: six weeks in an induced coma, and many more weeks of rehab and recovery as the NHS saved Michael's life, and then got him back on his feet. Throughout Michael's stay in intensive care, a notebook lay at the end of his bed, where the nurses who cared for him wrote letters of hope and support. Embarking on the long road to recovery, Michael was soon ready to start writing about his near-death experience.
Combining stunning new prose poems by one of Britain's best loved poets and the moving coronavirus diaries of his nurses, doctors and wife Emma-Louise Williams, this is a beautiful book about love, life and the NHS. Featuring original illustrations by Chris Riddell, each page celebrates the power of community, the importance of kind gestures in dark times, and the indomitable spirits of the people who keep us well.
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From the Publisher
A national treasure's journey to the brink and back.
Will I wake up?'
'There's a 50:50 chance.'
Michael Rosen wasn't feeling well. Soon he was struggling to breathe, and then he was admitted to hospital, suffering from coronavirus as the nation teetered on the edge of a global pandemic. What followed was months on the wards: six weeks in an induced coma, and many more weeks of rehab and recovery as the NHS saved Michael's life, and then got him back on his feet.
Throughout Michael's stay in intensive care, a notebook lay at the end of his bed, where the nurses who cared for him wrote letters of hope and support. Embarking on the long road to recovery, Michael was soon ready to start writing about his near-death experience.
Harrowing, beautiful and sometimes very funny ― Roddy Doyle
Emotional...impossible to read without a lump in the throat ― Observer
Intimate, desolate and sometimes very funny ― The Telegraph
Touching and, at times, surprisingly amusing ― Independent
About the Author
- Publisher : Ebury Press (31 Mar. 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1529109469
- ISBN-13 : 978-1529109467
- Dimensions : 12.6 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 18,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 March 2021
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As is known, Rosen contracted Covid, very seriously, in March 2020. He very nearly died. Early advice ‘don’t visit your doctor, don’t go to A + E’ and all the rest coupled with the inevitable lack of understanding of the quick potential lethal progression of the virus, where hypoxia could occur whilst breathing might seem to be reasonable, meant that if it weren’t for the quick action of a neighbour, also a GP, Rosen would have been one of the early casualties of March 2020. As it was, he spent 47 days on a ventilator in an induced coma. His chances of recovering were estimated as 50/50.
This is a wonderful book, revealing, often laugh out loud – he takes himself lightly, and the world and people in it, seriously. There is almost overwhelming warmth, gratitude and appreciation for the kindness of humanity – particularly as embodied by all who cared for him as he flirted with death in its Covid guise.
I have stressed Michael Rosen's good humour as possibly there might be those who would think 'oh I don't want to read something which will be bound to be distressing and sad' Wel, of COURSE there will be deep distress and sadness, terror, confusion and anger stalking through the pages, but this is NOT only that. Curiously, it is a fully, 'that is LIFE', kind of book. It reminded me, in many ways, of why, in Japanese culture, the appreciation of cherry blossom is seen so profoundly - the importance of cherishing, appreciating, deeply, fully everything life holds. Including its brevity. Rosen is so, so clearly an inhabiter, not a denier, and because of this, even in sorrow and loss there is SUCH a depth of joy - and merriment is a part of that
I choked up, often, reading it and, as often, snorted in delight at his slid in, disarming humour – such as
They’ve been worried
About my low blood pressure
But they’ve brought me the Daily Mail
So it’ll be fine in just a moment
Mostly written in poetry, there are also sections where his wife, Emma has contributed accounts, and, most movingly, the journal Rosen received from his medical teams, when he was discharged from hospital. This is such a breathtakingly kind action. The ICU teams, with patients in induced comas write an account of their patients, as if talking to them, rather than just medical notes. This (if they recover) gives them back their missing time. Rosen (like others) has lost himself, for that part of his life, and the emotional understanding demonstrated by showing that others, caregivers, were still seeing them as whole and individual people, not just as a medical emergency, is overwhelming and inspiring.
This is a book of great gratitude to those who deserve it – great anger too, against those who dismiss or dismissed this disease, the fake newsers, the disease deniers, the conspiracy theorists, the governments who dilly dallied, downplayed, took actions too late.
Finally there are Chris Riddell’s wonderful illustrations. Which were as much of a reason for me requesting this book as Rosen, his story and his writing.
Highly highly recommended. A most life affirming, thought provoking, inspiring book, beautifully expressed – and wickedly, disarmingly funny amidst all that
I received this as an ARC with more than usual gratitude to the publishers, via NetGalley
I was worried it would be depressing but it was uplifting
I wanted to read this as I have suffered from long covid for a year and was ill at the same time at Michael Rosen (although not as ill). The collection is so powerful and moving, particularly his poems to his wife. It was a joy to read.
By Mark H. on 23 March 2021
I read it in a single sitting, I just couldn't put it down. Every single page spoke to me, made me think, made me cry. Deeply personal, yet universal. The story of a pandemic told through the suffering of one body and mind. Brilliant, but oh so sad.
With messages sent out by his wife so that people knew what was going on, extracts from his patient’s diary written by NHS staff who cared for him (and these are people from all around the world), we also have new prose poems from the author himself, plus we are given his These are the Hands which he wrote for the 60th anniversary of the NHS. On top of that there are some lovely illustrations by Chris Riddell.
It has to be admitted that although the whole subject of the current pandemic is rather depressing there is a certain amount of humour injected here with some rather wry observations ( I like the patient who when told that his pee was rather dark replied that we were going through dark times), and also a sense of despair and anger, such as those people who deny the pandemic and conspiracy theorists and our government twiddling its thumbs instead of doing something earlier. Hopefully due to who the author is this book will stay in circulation for quite some time, and other generations will grow up reading about the pandemic. If you think about it in this country, we had the last outbreak of bubonic plague in 1910, and then of course there was what is called Spanish flu in 1918, and yet at school children are taught about the First World War, and these events that happened either side of that are forgotten and left out. Hopefully this pandemic will remain in memory and in books, so lessons are not forgotten.