Letter: Loving husband

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I disagree with Hilary G Chisolm's criticism of John Bayley's memoir of Iris Murdoch. I have read the memoir and found it to be moving and not at all intrusive (Letters, 28 January).

My mother is an Alzheimer's sufferer. Over a number of years we have watched her personality steadily disintegrate. One of the few "benefits" of this appalling disease is that as the layers of memory strip away we have got to know her as a person.

Reading John Bayley's tender account I am reminded of my own experiences watching the "hidden" life of my mother appear. It is an experience common to many carers.

Mr Bayley's tone, the balance of past revelation with descriptions of the present, his caring for his wife, and the manner and pace at which his memoir unfolds, could have arisen from our own experience.

I cannot see that this is a "confessional biography" of the type Ms Chisholm is meaning. If she could have an understanding of this illness (she doesn't say whether she has), she may appreciate the brave choice Mr Bayley has made in deciding to care for his wife at home. For me his memoir - of a remarkable woman by a loving husband - is part of this devotion.

MICHAEL BUTTERWORTH

Manchester

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