on January 28, 2011
This is an incredible book. As I am also ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, though in a much less debilitating way, I could relate to Elizabeth Bailey. I find it very generous on her part to have spent all that little energy she has to share that exceptional experience. The rythm of the writing in a way is the rythm of the snail, calming, relaxing. But, at the same time, we are very much taken by the story of the snail's every day life. Elizabeth doesn't write much about her very serious illness, just enough to make us realize to what extent the snail plays a role in her life and how it helps her go through each day. For those who are ill and housebound, this book will help see life differently and bring some ligh in those dark moments. For those who are in good health, it will be a worthwhile pause in the frantic pace we live in... and you will look at nature, particularly a snail, much differently. Elizabeth with this book shows us that she is not only a talented writer, but also shows that each creature, even the very small ones, has a role on this planet.
Elisabeth Tova Bailey is bedridden with a mysterious disease that has left her paralyzed but she finds meaning in her life through observing a small woodland snail!! The snail served as her entertainment, her connection to a world beyond her own suffering and gave her hope and strength to carry on and wait for her health to improve. Being bedridden she is cut-off from the world and lives like a "hermit" just like her snail.
Ms. Bailey does not complain about her illness, her time is better spent being curious about her snail and marvelling at how resilient it is. By watching so intently and being a studious pupil, Bailey tells us she wants to fight her illness but that wouldn't have been possible without her snail.
The latter part of the book reads more like a textbook on snails and other mollusks, but I would have liked to hear more of Bailey's life and her thoughts about her illness.
There is one line in the book that I will quote here because I find it is so very, very true. "Illness isolates; the isolated become invisible; the invisible become forgotten."
Anyone who reads this is going to love it and it's not like your typical memoir, it's a very different type of story which you'll thoroughly enjoy!