In 1981, during a family year away from New Zealand, four-month-old Alexander died in a London hospital.
Jan Pryor blends her personal experience of losing a child with her professional understanding of family dynamics and children’s development. The clumsiness of consolation; the challenges of organising a funeral – and what to do with Alexander’s ashes; the isolation, being far from friends and family; continuing family life with two other young children to care for; all are described directly but without self-pity. The experience of growing up in 1960s New Zealand – and the stand-off between traditional expectations of the role of a woman versus the pull towards a professional life – is interwoven throughout the memoir.
After Alexander is a story of triumph over loss, and of optimism. It offers consolation and hope to parents who have lost a child, to those who fear losing a child, and to anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one.
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‘Jan Pryor’s memoir of the sudden death of her baby Alexander is powerfully honest and moving, with a thoughtful, even at times humorous, account of the long, slow march to acceptance that ensues.’ Mark McCrum
‘An exquisitely written account of the death of a baby and the effect on the lives of those around it. And yet far more than this. Jan Pryor manages to touch every nerve in this brilliant memoir. A look at happy lives interrupted by the unbearable. I loved this book – spare and profound, sad yet optimistic, poignant yet not the slightest bit sentimental. Everyone who has lost a child – and, more importantly, those who haven’t – should read this.’ Linda Burgess, Author and Memoirist
‘A memoir of death, life and family living. Infant Alexander’s brief life and sudden cot death. A family remembering; another child and the children growing up. All acutely observed and recorded by Alexander’s mother with empathy, insight and openness, and thirty years of hindsight. Beautifully written and the most compelling and enlightening of family memoirs.’ Martin Richards. University of Cambridge