June Online ebook Club – Keeper by Andrea Gillies

This month we are reading Keeper by Andrea Gillies for our Online ebook club, a memoir about Alzheimer’s disease. When writer and mother of three Andrea Gillies, finds that her parents-in-law are struggling to look after themselves, she invites them to move in. The newly extended family move to a Victorian house on the coast of Scotland where they hope to make a new life and Andrea attempts to work on her writing. The reality is not as simple as it seems. Andrea’s mother-in-law, Nancy, is in the middle stages of Alzheimers and Andrea takes the time to care for her. What follows is a steep learning curve for Andrea and her family. In this memoir Andrea describes the science behind the disease, her relationship with her mother-in-law and the frustration, exhaustion and occassional black comedy that comes with caring for a person suffering from Alzheimers.

Keeper was the winner of the inaugural Wellcome Prize in 2009 and the Orwell Prize in 2010.

Here’s some questions to get the conversation started:

1. The author combines medical information with her personal account of Alzheimer’s. Do you think this enhanced the story or would you have preferred a purely personal account?

2. The author came under some criticism for exposing so much personal detail about her mother-in-law. Do you think this criticism was warrated? Why or why not?

3. What do you think of the author’s reactions to her mother-in-law? Could you understand or relate to them?

4. Do you agree with the author when she says that memory is the same as identity?

5. What do you think of the conclusion to the memoir? How did it change your perspective on Alzheimers?

You can download the ebook from One Click Digital. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this book.