Numerous books have been written about former president Ronald Reagan, but none have been more moving or poignant than this memoir by his daughter Patti Davis. Her account of the family's struggles with the realities of Reagan's Alzheimer's disease is raw and personal yet, as one reviewer noted, never "sappy, pitiful, or strident." A powerful statement about a charismatic man and a family's response to a devastating progressive illness.
Ronald Reagan's youngest daughter, Davis is best known as a peace activist who forcefully disagreed with her father's policies. But this graceful memoir demonstrates that she is also a gifted writer. The focus of the journal-style book is her father's descent into Alzheimer's disease, but Davis deftly weaves family history and childhood memories into the surprisingly vibrant fabric of her story. The most startling aspect of this effort is its universality. Readers whose fathers have never held an elected office higher than president of their high school class will still be able to relate to these musings from a daughter who remembers her dad best for their ordinary moments together: swimming, riding horses or chatting about the flight paths of birds. Even though Davis calls Alzheimer's a "haunting presence in these pages," her message of love, loyalty and forgiveness manages to overshadow this "relentless pirate" of a disease. She recalls Reagan's peaceful acceptance of news that his beloved horse, Nancy D, had died: "His first response to death was to remember the beauty of the life that had passed. The memory comes when I find myself wondering, Where are you?" Davis's thoughtful and honest reflections make her father come to life again and should foster remembrances for readers as well. 2 photos. Agent, Don Epstein at Greater Talent Management. (Nov. 16) Forecast: The book's timing-after the flood of Reagan books that immediately followed his death; right before the holiday season-is excellent, which should result in robust sales. 100,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan declared November National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month. Now in a sad twist of fate, his daughter recalls his diagnosis and battle with the disease, an ordeal her mother, Nancy Reagan, called "the long goodbye." Davis's elegiac memoir consists of her private thoughts, memories of her father and her childhood, and her sorrow at the temporary estrangement that arose between her and her parents. Her narrative of Reagan's death, the moment the family hoped might be accompanied by some long-lost clarity of mind, is moving and rings true: "My father looks straight at my mother, holds onto the sight of her face for a moment or two, and then gently closes his eyes and stops breathing. My mother whispers, `That's the greatest gift you could have given me.' " Despite the author's annoying tendency toward self-absorption, the text flows easily, and the emotions recalled are so universal that many will find comfort in Davis's depiction of an all-consuming grief. Expect demand in public libraries of all sizes.-Cleo Pappas, Zitek Medical Lib., La Grange Memorial Hosp., IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"A sentimental and thought provoking memoir."—USA Today
"[A] frank reflection on the often difficult, sometime tumultuous relations between parents and children."—Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"[A] genuine and heartfelt chronology of one person’s passing and its effect on those who are unwitting bystanders."—San Diego Union-Tribune