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Tag Archives: Kassandra Montag
Friday Reads: “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death” by Jean-Dominique Bauby
For me, the hallmark of all my favorite books is that I enjoy reading them over and over again. Maybe years apart or for some I revisit them every year, but I always come back. If I like a book enough that I want to re-read it, I know it’s a classic for me. This is one of those books. Written entirely by a man bed-bound and paralyzed, Jean-Dominique Bauby, suffered a massive stroke and was left in what doctors thought was a completely vegetative state. In truth, his mind was intact but he could no longer communicate with the rest of his body, what is now known as locked-in syndrome. Yet through blinking and eye-movement alone, he wrote what is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. It is both his memoir and treaties on life and death and how he copes with the hand he’s been dealt. Translated from Bauby’s original french by Jeremy Leggatt, this short (only 131 pages) but poignant book will make every reader look at the world differently.
Bauby, Jean-Dominique. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death. Vintage. 1998.
Set in the Sandhills of Nebraska, this mystery centers around a children’s home for troubled youths and a psychologist who is trying to start a new life. Isolated and far off the beaten path, Hatchery House, is a treatment facility for orphaned children with psychiatric disorders. Lore Webber has left a job with the FBI in Omaha and moved out west to start over, but when one of her patients at Hatchery House is found murdered her old life and her new life will collide. This closed-door murder thriller will have readers guessing until the very end. The inherent remoteness of the setting has limited the suspect pool, and no one wants to think the people they live with are capable of murder. The beautifully written descriptions of the setting honor the unique beauty and seclusion of the Sandhills. Too many people who comment on the Nebraska landscape have only ever driven through on I80, it was good to read a book that looked deeper. The characters are complex and well-written, with interesting backstories that unfold throughout the story as you work alongside Lore to solve the crime. Thoroughly well-researched and compelling, this is Montag’s second novel, her first “After the Flood” was published in 2019, and is also a favorite read of mine. I would highly recommend both.
Montag, Kassandra. Those Who Return. Quercus. 2022.