A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Many readers will recognize Diane Ackerman’s name from her 22 adult and children’s books. Having relished her bestseller, The Zookeeper’s Wife (940.5318 ACK), I was curious to learn what had happened in her own life, which is why I picked up One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage and the Language of Healing.
Besides being a writer herself, Ackerman has been married for over 40 years to Paul West, the English-born author of 24 novels and other literary works. Naturally, their time together has celebrated word play and spoken and written communication, so it was all the more tragic when West suffered a stroke in the 2000s that left him speechless, a result of global aphasia.
In the days and years that followed, Ackerman searched for ways to help her husband and preserve the strength and joy of their marriage. A major part of her strategy involved using the very creativity that made them successful writers, which she describes in fascinating detail (including a list of one hundred pet names West bestowed upon her, that led to the book’s title).
She also gives a helpful outline of the medical concerns that stroke victims and their families face and the help they can find. I found the most valuable aspect of the book the personal story she shares and the realization that couples can come through a major trauma not only intact, but looking forward to each new day.
–Review by Christine