Today I received a book in the post. Nothing surprising in that, given the way we tend to shop. But this book is special. It is the deeply personal and inspiring memoir of Marian Partington, whose sister Lucy’s remains were found in the basement of 25 Cromwell Street Gloucester in 1994 – twenty-one years after her unexplained disappearance.
I had been sent the book because I had written some ‘ praise’ in advance. This is what I wrote,
The question of how people feel, and then cope, in the aftermath of tragic loss violently inflicted, is one which we have all asked ourselves. By sharing with searing honesty her own journey, Marian Partington tells a story which is both precisely hers and yet also belongs to the human spirit.
It is not a story of ‘coping with loss’, nor of ‘overcoming emotion’ nor less of ‘achieving forgiveness’. It is the story of simply, doggedly and patiently refusing to accept the path of victimhood, revenge or bitter resentment. Instead Marian has walked the way of uncertainty, humility and hope which, though spiritual struggle and human kindness, accepts and transforms sadness, loss and evil.
She offers us a profound and poetic reflection on her experiences. The poetic dimension is not incidental. The victory of which this book speaks has at least three levels. Yes, we learn that goodness is stronger than evil, and that the sacred can be recovered after profanation and degradation. But we also learn of the grace of words which can cast transfiguring light on the ugliest cruelty and sorest loss.
The journalist Deborah Orr wrote this, ‘If You Sit Very Still’ is the lyrical, humbling fruit of a long and determined effort to make sense of humanity at its darkest and to achieve forgiveness, serenity and peace.
This book will touch people deeply. It deserves to be very widely read.
‘If You Sit Very Still’ by Marian Partington is published on May 10th by Vala Publishing Co-Operative http://www.valapublishers.coop