Genre : Fiction
Published : 7 May 2009 - Short Books
KEEPER is a beautifully written and sharply observed account of what it is like to care for a relative with Alzheimer's. As her mother-in-law Nancy goes through all the different stages of the disease, we see how Andrea Gillies and her family try to cope with all the uncertainty, the sadness and the frustration of witnessing a person they love losing her identity day by day. Most of us know someone with Alzheimer's and this book helps us to understand the disease, and what is happening to those who suffer from it; but, just as importantly, KEEPER also explores the dilemmas faced by those who care for sufferers of the disease, and does so with compassion, wit and humour.


Andrea Gillies’ account of living with Alzheimer’s is the perfect fusion of narrative with enough memorable science not to choke you. It’s a fantastic book – down to earth and darkly comic in places. The judges found it compelling.

Jo Brand, chair of the Wellcome Trust Book Prize Judging panel outstanding memoir...the author has tremendous literary sensibility, nimble comic gifts...

The Observer News Review

... a beautifully observed, utterly honest... account of neurological illness.

The Times

Despite the grisly subject, this is a compulsively readable and culturally clued-up book, drawing lightly on Proust, Marcus Aurelius and Ravel...her book is a valuable exploration of a landscape we urgently need to understand better now that so many of us are going to go there.

Phil Baker, The Sunday Times Culture Supplement

Keeper is intelligently written and impossible to classify. Part memoir, part biography, it overflows with history, literature and chunks of information... threaded together in a free-associative narrative... A relevant and important book, this compassionate account of 'mothering somebody’s mother' will be required reading for carers caught up in the 'tidal wave of dementia coming our way'.

Janette Currie, Times Literary Supplement

a searingly honest account .... KEEPER isn't just Nancy's story. It's about a monstrous disease that strips people of their dignity and life savings.

The Daily Express

deeply moving

The Daily Mail

This is not another guide to be added to the depressing pile by the bedside for those who are confronting the decline of a relative. It is as much an exploration of memory, its loss and the subsequent erosion of personality... (The) book is both scientific and political... Gillies manages to steer the book away from misery lit and beneath the profoundly bleak narrative runs a stream of grim humour.

The Guardian

Both political and important

Jane Wheatley, The Times

A powerful book ... Professionals need to read it. Carers will find it lessens their isolation

The Telegraph

This is one of the most moving and important books that I have read on Alzheimer’s.

John Bayley

I was absolutely riveted. This is a wonderful book – honest, upsetting, tender, sometimes angry and often funny – which takes us on a journey into dementia and, in doing so, explores what it means to be human.

Deborah Moggach

Terrific, terrifying, absolutely powerful in every choice of word, every sentence, and the whole thrust of it.

Quentin Cooper, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Material World

An "important, moving book"<br />

Erica Wagner, The Times

Gillies intersperses her narrative with smart, easy-to-understand passages on the history and science of Alzheimer's.

Los Angeles Times

As readers here have reason to suspect, unhappy surprises lie ahead. But I kept reading because Mrs. Gillies is such a gorgeous writer, because Nancy is so compelling in her ferocity, and because their relationship — part dance, part duel — is hard to look away from.

The New York Times

A book that stays with you... we are compelled by the narrative, pulled in and consumed... I attribute this to the authors honesty, and her promise to tell all

Pyschology Today

There are moments of black comedy and euphoria seeded amongst the darker passages, and in spite of the subject, the book is hopeful and inspiring.

St Andrews Citizen

Thoughtful, informative and true... a very good, very necessary book.

Sir Richard Eyre, Patron of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust

An incredibly observant....desperately honest book... Andrea Gillies is a brilliant prose stylist with a poet's facility for metaphor and a brave wit born of exasperation and sadness.

Professor Raymond Tallis, author of The Kingdom of Infinite Space

Gillies' Keeper deserved the top prize [2009 Wellcome Trust Prize] both for its accessible literary style and its balanced elucidation of both the science of Alzheimer's disease and the toll it takes on sufferers and carers alike... The most poignant aspect of Keeper, however, is the way Gillies traces the increasingly unbearable pressures that are placed on carers.

The Lancet

By writing so skillfully and personally about Alzheimer's, she has given caregivers and families a gift....It's not an easy book to read, but it's impossible to put down.

Minneapolis Star Tribune

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