Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere. All views my own. Mostly.
Publication Date:Available Now from Alma Books.
Source: Review copy.
Professor Stephen Hawking is one of the most famous and remarkable scientists of our age and the author of the scientific bestseller A Brief History of Time, which has sold more than 25 million copies. In this compelling memoir, his first wife, Jane Hawking, relates the inside story of their extraordinary marriage. As Stephen's academic renown soared, his body was collapsing under the assaults of a motor neuron disease. Jane's candid account of trying to balance his 24-hour care with the needs of their growing family reveals the inner strength of the author, while the self-evident character and achievements of her husband make for an incredible tale presented with unflinching honesty. Jane's candor is no less apparent when the marriage finally ends in a high-profile meltdown, with Stephen leaving Jane for one of his nurses and Jane marrying an old family friend. In this exceptionally open, moving, and often funny memoir, Jane Hawking confronts not only the acutely complicated and painful dilemmas of her first marriage, but also the relationship's fault lines exposed by the pervasive effects of fame and wealth. The result is a book about optimism, love, and change that will resonate with readers everywhere.
This was an absolutely fascinating read - Of course I have followed Stephen Hawking's story just like everybody else, he always struck me as quite an enigmatic character but apart from his public persona I did not know a great deal. And I knew nothing of Jane Hawking, his first wife, who in this memoir tells it as it was for her and it is at turns emotional, funny and very engaging.
It is a love story, it is also the story of two people coming together and making a life, a life that is difficult and expected to be short lived. Jane Hawking does not pull punches with her narrative, but shows her inner strength in the face of adversity, both the good and the bad things that happen are told with an open honesty and a tendency to be blunt that is very appealing.
Of course this is a very personal story - as such I found myself wondering how much of it was coloured by what came later - I can't say that Stephen Hawking came across as terribly likeable overall - although of course very brave, absolutely determined and often inspiring. Added to that was a sense of the arrogance that extraordinarily intelligent people can have, his disregard for Jane's belief system and his impatience with other people is sitting right there, sometimes making me shake my head. Jane herself is not always likeable, which I guess shows that she wrote honestly even about herself, but I admired her grit and total and absolute love for her family that kept her going through some difficult times.
The science was intriguing, the lifespan of the relationship and marriage entirely compelling, the slow disintigration of health is sad yet strangely empowering as Stephen fights on regardless, so overall a terrific read if a little long winded and dry upon occasion, for the most part it was entirely bewitching.
I have not seen the movie as yet - The Theory of Everything, as I understand it, takes the more romantic aspects of the story told here and creates a rather wonderful film. I shall look forward to seeing it, however I am very pleased that I read this first as I believe right here is where you will find the most truth, even if skewed by being told by only one side of the equation.
Definitely recommended for fans of Non Fiction and anyone with an interest in a real life lived.
Happy Reading Folks!