It is a feature of human nature that we more readily accept into our personal realm those with whom we share something in common than those with whom we do not. By reading a book, we accept whatever that book holds into our own space, the space we hold most dear.
The fact that Muriel Vasconcellos is a translator whom I respect as a result of contact on ProZ.com is what prompted me to read her recently published memoirs, Finding My Invincible Summer. It is thanks to Emma Goldsmith’s translation blog that I knew the book had now made it to the shelves. I already had an inkling that Muriel had lived an interesting life, so clicking “yes” to instant Kindle® download was the only sensible decision to make, my own curiosity notwithstanding.
What an absolute pleasure this book is to read! The pleasure reaches way beyond the depths of its incredibly well-constructed narrative, beyond the smooth cadence within and between each sentence; a rhythm which ultimately spans the entire book. The joy of reading this work has very little to do with discovering details about by one person – who happens to be a translator – and her journey with and without cancer. The delight resides in the ability of this story to resonate with one’s own journey in life on a number of levels.
I am working on the assumption that everyone knows at least one person who has suffered pain; one person who has had to find healing within. If you have taken that journey yourself or have helped someone take that journey, the insights contained in this book will have the capacity to refresh and uplift. Even if all you yourself have suffered in your life is emotional pain, and remain healthy in the eyes of conventional medicine, Muriel’s account of her gradual realisations about what truly matters could well trigger a beneficial shift in perspective in your own life. At the very least, it will make your head swirl.
I do no justice to the beautiful descriptions throughout the book which surprise and delight the reader with gratifying frequency, yet with a total absence of pretension. It is this lack of pretension which is most appealing. I have read many of the publications meticulously detailed in the bibliography, and have experienced, whether at first or second hand, a goodly number of the alternative therapies explored by the writer. I have read of many people’s journeys towards self-fulfilment. Yet I have never come across an account that is as once quite so well-modulated, humble and powerful.
The wonder of Finding My Invincible Summer lies in the lean simplicity with which it deftly deals with complex issues. It is a warm, thoroughly honest and intensely personal account which almost unintentionally invites you with a solid sense of humour and well-grounded gentility to enter a realm where you, too, may live your “invincible summer”.
Read the book, and let me know if you agree!