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In this uniquely ...
In this uniquely revealing biography, Hilary and Piers du Pré have re-created the life they shared with their sister in astonishing personal detail, unveiling the private world behind the public face. With warmth and candor they recount Jackie's blissful love of the cello, her marriage to the conductor Daniel Barenboim, her compulsions, her suffering, and, above all, the price exacted by her talent on the whole family. For proud as they were of Jackie's enormous success, none of them was prepared for the profound impact her genius would have on each of their lives. . . .
Jackie died on a Monday and the funeral was two days later.
My brother Piers, his wife Lin, and I drove to Rock House in Buckinghamshire to collect Dad. He greeted us at the door wearing his bowler, as the Rabbi had requested he should bring a hat. Since none of us had been to a Jewish funeral before, we had no idea what to expect. Squashing into the car, we all set off for Golders Green, allowing plenty of time to find our way through north London.
We arrived far too early and the cemetery seemed deserted. We parked as near as possible, and while Piers lifted Dad from the car and lowered him into his wheelchair, I wandered into the graveyard and found the hollow tomb where Jackie was to go. It was covered but lay waiting, cold and empty.
One after another, bouquets were being delivered and I suddenly realized, with horror, that I had forgotten the flowers I had picked from the garden for Jackie. They were still on the kitchen table at home.
I asked for the nearest florist-and was directed down the road. Leaving Piers and Lin to look after Dad, I ran and ran through the miserable, gray day to the main road, under the railway bridge, and to the right. At last, ahead of me, was the shop, bursting with flowers, glorious bouquets spilling on to the pavement, making a blanket of color.
I picked my way between them. "This is incredible, all these flowers . . ."
"Oh, yes," came the reply. "There's a big funeral today. The great cellist, Jacqueline du Pre, has died, and I just can't keep up with the orders...Can I help you?"
The florist looked aghast as tears streamed down my face.
Through my sobs, I tried to explain that I needed a flower for my sister. I could hardly see but eventually chose one pale, creamy-pink rose with a gorgeous scent that Jackie would have loved. Still in tears, I put my hand in my pocket and found I had left my purse at home, too.
The florist simply gave me the rose. I tried to thank her properly, but could only whisper.
I was desperately anxious to find Jackie, and ran wearily back to the cemetery. The caretaker welcomed me at the gate and promised to put my rose with the family flowers. I asked him where the funeral service would be and he pointed to the little synagogue. I opened the door.
There, on a trolley in the peaceful, wooden room, was Jackie's coffin, covered with a black shroud. I don't know how long I was with her but we were alone again, at last, and I was able to say so much. Silently, I told her I loved her, and said goodbye.
After a while I heard a sound, and turned to find a rabbi waiting quietly at the door. He had one of the kindest faces I have ever seen. He walked over and put his arm round me.
"Many will claim they were her best friend," he said. "Many will claim they alone understood what she needed. But your memories of your sister are unique. They are your own. Let no one interfere or take them from you." He hugged me and whispered, "Never forget that."
I wanted to thank him but, as I tried to speak, the doors opened and in poured the great and illustrious. We were completely surrounded.
Posted March 7, 2000
And the Book is Better than the Movie -- Really! As much as I was moved by the movie produced after the book was written, I find that it is a must to read the actual book 'Hilary and Jackie'. Jacqueline du Pre's older sister and younger brother wrote the book. It is written in alternating form, thus giving both writers a personal insight into the complex and tragic life of one of the world's greatest cellists. One cannot feel but as one with this gifted family. This also gives a totally different outlook on Jackie's husband, the famous conductor and pianist, Daniel Barenboim. We never see or hear more than the artist in person, in concert, on stage, on video or as part of a prized collection of our classical CDs. Suddenly they turn into very human beings, whose life is not only difficult, but along with all their problems; they live in a veritable goldfish bowl. We read and feel the development of Jacqueline's talent and career as the top cellist -- the best! Then we read along the path to her unfolding Multiple Sclerosis. Within and without this public exposure, the family suffers greatly. There is the anger that comes with a muscular neurological disorder. There are mood swings and character changes, affecting all who love and care for her. We feel sympathy for her that is understood! But we also learn to sympathize with the family, that is being showered by abuse and accusations of responsibility by this tragedy. There is the anger and frustration shown by the family. This book is a must read, not only for the music lovers, who tend to adore their favorite artists, but also for anyone who knows someone, or has someone in the family, suffering from any muscular-neurological disorder, or some other potentially fatal disease. The book places the reader squarely in the center of the family and friends of this late great artist. After reading this, it opened up much understanding for the family environment of a very ill person. As a parent, it generates much personal understanding. Everyone should read this book and keep an open mind until the end. The book ends with a 'Rediscovery' and 'Epilogue' that should not be ignored. It is a fine finish to a fine piece of non-fiction reading.
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Posted June 1, 2001
Why Hilary didn't dump her hubby was beyond me! 'We were helping Jackie' - what a bunch of hooey! This book should have been titled 'Hilary the gutless'. Her husband is an even bigger joke- 'I'll never leave you Hil' - gee thanks! - the whole thing was really - I don't know - a dud.
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Posted January 27, 2009
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