A journalist whose career thrived during the hedonistic Nineties, Charlotte Raven was forced to swap illegal narcotics for a raft of pharmaceutical drugs when, at the age of 35, she was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease (HD), a rare, incurable genetic condition that causes the breakdown of nerve cells in the brain and, eventually, death. Faced with this, the writer set out to chronicle her experience in a blog, eventually becoming this chatty, irreverent memoir. Frank about her own perceived flaws (narcissistic, selfish, bad with money) and the debilitating effects of the disease (clumsiness, brain fog, dwindling sex drive, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, loneliness, depression), the author doesn’t pull any punches, but it’s not all doom and gloom: a glimmer of hope arrives in the form of a much-hyped drug trial in which she – and just about every other HD patient in the UK – longs to become ‘patient one’. Considering this is a book about, essentially, a terminal illness, it’s a surprisingly pithy and entertaining read. The author’s candour and self-deprecation make her all the more likable, and it’s refreshing to discover a memoir about someone in tragic circumstances that doesn’t stray into glib ‘seize the day’ self-help territory.
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