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I was born in Barcelona and have lived in the UK for many years now. I'm a writer, translator (English-Spanish and vice-versa) and I'm a medical doctor and worked in Forensic Psychiatry many years. I also have a BA and a PhD in American Literature and Film, and a Masters in Criminology. I've always loved books and apart from writing them I review them often. I write a bit of everything, check my books for more information and my about page for links. My blog is bilingual, English and Spanish.

Comments (41)

  1. Wonderful review, Olga. It sounds like an emotional read. I actually got teary eyed reading the book description.

      1. Thanks for the opportunity to read such a moving book, Anne, and I hope you have a wonderful book launch on Thursday.

          1. Thanks, Anne! I’m sure I’ll find the time! ♥

    1. Thanks, Priscilla. Anne is well acquainted with the situation, and although I didn’t get to see the old asylums at full functioning, I did come across many patients that had spent years there. It might be difficult to imagine, but it wasn’t long ago. It is important such stories are told, and Anne has created very memorable characters.

  2. This sounds like a rarity, a book that really needed to be written. In my time in the Ambulance Service, I attended those old Gothic hospitals like Friern Barnet, seeing people standing against walls, or banging their heads in corridors. Large groups of unsupervised patients creating a cacophony of noise in huge rooms, and overworked nurses losing the ability (and the will) to cope.
    I was still an EMT when Care In The Community began. In the run-down part of West London where I was based, that proved to be a disaster initially. Many people who were completely institutionalised after almost a lifetime in hospital were given flats in high-rise block, and more or less left to fend for themselves. That first year, so many committed suicide by jumping from height, that we named them ‘The falling leaves of Thatcherism’, as it had been her idea to ‘save money’ by doing this. (So we were told)
    Most people have now forgotten the huge asylums of London like Friern Barnet and St Bernard’s (Hanwell), and although this book is set in Cumbria, it is a much-needed reminder.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Thanks, Pete, for sharing your memories and your experiences. It was a pretty complicated moment, and although things have moved on, what happened shouldn’t be forgotten.
      Like many other experiments to try to save money, it had a very dark side. The idea was not bad, but the implementation left a lot to be desired, because, as you say, you cannot expect people who have led institutionalised and “sheltered” lives and with very complex care needs to, suddenly adapt to life outside by themselves. To do a good job, care in the community requires a lot of well-prepared staff and plenty of resources, and those need to be put into place before closing the hospitals. While in a hospital there are normally more people around and procedures in place, outside things are a bit more complicated and although patients might get on very well with their care-worker, that person is not going to be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so it all needs to be well-planned. And not all patients can live independently, even with the best care and will in the world.
      You’re right. This book is needed, for sure.
      Stay well.

      1. I enjoyed this enlightening and mindful exchange between you and Pete as well, Olga. Hugs.

        1. Thanks, Teagan. Yes, Anne is writing from personal experience and about a particularly difficult period in public psychiatry in the UK. Although the story is fictional, it is based on many similar cases, unfortunately. Thanks for reading it, and don’t worry, I know you’re very busy. Stay safe, and I hope things are settling down a bit for you. 🙂

    2. Thanks for sharing your reflections, Pete. As Olga says, it was an extremely complex situation with the risk of, on the one hand, recreating the institution in the community, and leaving people insufficiently supported on the other. I didn’t work in London, but new people who did, and a lot of resource went into supporting people through the transition – although clearly not enough in the cases you mention which must have been extremely distressing to witness.
      It’s unfortunate that politicians perceived closing wards an opportunity to make financial savings as the clinicians involved were well aware that decent and dignified care for vulnerable people is costly.

  3. Thank you for this review, Olga.
    Serving HumanKind,

    1. Thanks, Shira. A moving book about a very important subject.
      Stay safe.

      1. You too, Olga.
        By the way, let me know if you’re interested in joining our Educational Collaborative blog.

        I can post the link here if you like (not sure if it’d be ok, so thought I’d ask first…)

        1. Thanks, Shira. My teaching experience is very limited, and at the moment I’m only teaching a couple of private students of English on a one-to-one basis, pretty individualised content, so I don’t have much to contribute. Is it “Critical Thinking for Human Community” the blog you refer to? I can see the link when I read your comments, so I can visit it directly. If not, feel free to post it here. Thanks and good luck.

          1. Actually, Olga, it’s not ‘teacher’ or ‘teaching’ posts that I’m interested in, but rather simply posts that show the importance of learning, as kids or as adults.
            This is a new blog that Ned and I have started reposting to, (“Critical Thinking for Human Community is my blog), and I’ve reposted the idea for everyone there on my blog, which is just that we repost one of your posts, and then your repost one of ours, as long as it relates to long term learning, or to democracy:



          2. Thanks, Shira. For a while now, I’ve only been sharing book reviews on my blog, but I’ll keep your suggestion in mind if I post content that fits the new blog. A great idea, by the way. Good luck!

          3. Thanks!

          4. 🙂

  4. I honestly had no idea it was like this in the UK so recently, Olga. It really is rather a shock to learn this. I am hoping to attend at least some of Anne’s launch party tomorrow. The book sounds fascinating.

    1. Thanks, Robbie. Yes, things take a long time to change, and not all was bad about the old system, but it was terrible for some people. I hope you can manage and attend. I’m teaching a class at that time, so I’ll miss it, but I’m sure it will be fascinating. It’s a very moving book. Stay safe.

      1. Oh, great news! I’m so happy Robbie managed to join you. She was eager to attend. ♥

  5. Hi Olga, I hope you’re having a good day at work. I’m sorry to be so late to this marvelous post. First, wishing Anne huge success. I’ve seen her around the blogosphere a couple of times, but didn’t know anything of her work. It’s clearly first-rate.
    I very much enjoyed reading your personal perspective on this book. It was helpful in several ways. At first look, I was certain this was going to be a whimsical, happy story. Now I realize it is not at all. However, the characters sound marvelously written. The setting is one that always intrigues me, as my first career choice was psychiatry — when I was ten years old, and later in the mid 1980s with my first serious go at higher education for psychology. As you know, I had to take other paths. Anne’s book seems richly crafted. Thanks and best wishes to you both. Hugs on the wing!

    1. Thanks, Teagan. Yes, I think we’ve viewed each other from a distance, but are edging closer!
      I love my cover but it does concern me people could expect a light read. It is whimsical, but also tragic. I didn’t set out to make it comic, but it seems to have worked.

  6. dgkaye says:

    Fantastic insights in your in-depth review of Anne’s book Olga. It certainly looks a fascinating read, despite the disturbing issues. I will add this book for sure. Congrats to Anne! <3

    1. Thanks, Debby. I think you will appreciate this one. Stay strong and safe. ♥

      1. dgkaye says:

        I’m working it Olga <3

      1. dgkaye says:

        Pleasure Anne 🙂

  7. This sounds like a very moving story, Olga – another amazing review. Toni x

    1. Thanks, Toni. It is indeed. Enjoy the rest of the week.

    2. Amazing review, indeed. It’s lovely to have such an informed, eloquent and thorough response to my fiction. Olga is a star.

      1. Thanks, Anne! Any time!

  8. It sounds fascinating. A great review as always, Olga.

    1. A great book, Luccia. Happy weekend!

      1. Thanks, Anne. Yours is a very atmospheric novel, and I couldn’t help but find myself taking a trip down memory lane. All the best. ♥

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