Reading By Moonlight would have to be one of the most beautiful, lyrical and mesmerising books I have read in a long time. I have failed to get very much done today as I have been unable to tear myself about from this book.
Australian author and Professor of English, Brenda Walker has written Reading By Moonlight as a narrative of her journey through her diagnosis, treatment and recovery of breast cancer. What makes this slightly different from some other books of a similar focus is the way that Walker weaves her literary background and love of books and writing into her story - in a way, given that this is her background it would have been virtually impossible to exclude it.
Walker divides the book into five sections; surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, reconstruction and survival - whilst each section is part of a single narrative they also have their own individual feel and sense - which Walker describes through her own emotions and remembrances of the times but also on her recollection of the books she chooses to read through each period.
Some of the books and authors that Walker relies on to support her through this journey and ones that she shares with us in Reading By Moonlight include, The Hours - Michael Cunningham, Anna Karenina - Tolstoy, The Tale of Genji - Murasaki Shikibu, Voss - Patrick White, Edgar Allan Poe and her own novel in progress at the time - The Wing of Night. Each book and author discussed is done so in just enough detail so that the connection between that being discussed and Walker's own current situation is clear - although you never feel you are being preached at.
The book is sad and yet hopeful at the same time - and now only because Walker is able to end her book with a chapter called Survival.
There are so many wonderful, true and inspiring quotes I could leave you with from this already favourite book of mine but I will choose this one;
"To be honest I would rather tell you about books. A good book laces invisible fingers into the shape of a winter armchair or a hammock in the sun. I'm not talking about comfort, necessarily, but support. A good writer might take you to strange and difficult places, but you're in the hands of someone you trust".
So true, and I now add Brenda Walker high on the list of authors I trust.