The Last Ocean: A Journey Through Memory and Forgetting

Penguin Pr. Aug. 2019. 272p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780525521969. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780525521976. HEALTH
Journalist and novelist (as Nicci French with Sean French) Gerrard describes how for ten years, her father, John, lived “mildly, sweetly, uncomplainingly” with dementia, though still “gradually disappearing, memories falling away, words going, recognition fading.” Then, after a stay in the hospital for a physical problem, with his family able to be there only during strictly enforced visiting hours and hospital staff too overworked and poorly trained to help much, John came home “a ghost of himself, inarticulate, lost.” In a few months, he was dead. Gerrard went on to learn about how other people with dementia were cared for and found a troubling lack of compassion in hospitals and nursing homes. In 2014, she cofounded John’s Campaign UK, which advocates for the right of family members and other caregivers to stay with loved ones who are hospitalized for dementia. According to Gerrard, around 47 million people live with dementia throughout the world. Someone develops the disease every three seconds. They are our mothers, fathers, spouses, and friends. One day, they may well be us.
VERDICT Among the many recent books on the subject of dementia, this is one is particularly moving, beautifully told, and an important addition to memoir and consumer health collections. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/19.]
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing