Time to Let Go
by Christoph Fischer
Christoph Fischer's new book, Time to Let Go, has just been released and has already garnered twenty 5-star reviews. You can follow the tour on Christoph's Facebook page. The tour stops here today for an excerpt and a guest post on Alzheimer's disease.
You can also check out Christoph's other books: The Luck of the Weissensteiners (read my blog post), Sebastian (read my blog post), and The Black Eagle Inn (read my blog post).
Time to Let Go is a contemporary family drama set in Britain.
Following a traumatic incident at work Stewardess Hanna Korhonen decides to take time off work and leaves her home in London to spend quality time with her elderly parents in rural England. There she finds that neither can she run away from her problems, nor does her family provide the easy getaway place that she has hoped for. Her mother suffers from Alzheimer's disease and, while being confronted with the consequences of her issues at work, she and her entire family are forced to reassess their lives.
The book takes a close look at family dynamics and at human nature in a time of a crisis. Their challenges, individual and shared, take the Korhonens on a journey of self-discovery and redemption.
He decided not to wait for Hanna’s return. She was supposed to have been gone for only a few hours but had not showed up yet. Knowing his daughter, anything was possible. He was eager to move the day along so that he and Biddy could watch an entire film before his wife would get tired and fall asleep. He had shortlisted several films which he thought his wife might enjoy but he could not make up his mind. After the last few evenings where Hanna had entertained her mother with silly musical movies he felt inclined to make a similar choice, but was not confident that he was the right company for Biddy to watch those films with. Would another musical like Chicago be of any use, without Hanna there to cheer Biddy on?
In the end he settled for The Philadelphia Story, a classic screw ball comedy that Biddy had always loved, not least for its leading actors. The story line might intellectually be a little too demanding for his wife but it had enough slap stick moments to promise a pleasant evening.
Unfortunately Hanna came home early, before her parents had managed to settle into the film. Instantly distracted and excited by her daughter’s arrival, Biddy got up and paid no more attention to the TV.
Walter tried to set his wife up for telling the story about the swans and the dogs, but that memory was gone.
“Swans? You are talking a lot of nonsense today,” she said to Walter. “There are no swans here.”
“Not now,” Walter tried, unwilling to give up without further efforts to regain a memory for his wife. “We just went to the lake. The same as yesterday when you went to the lake with Hanna. The dog that chased the swans? That happened only two hours ago!”
“Daddy, you are upsetting her now. Leave her be,” Hanna said.
“Pumpkin, I can’t just sit back and let the disease take everything away from our life without a fight,” Walter said forcefully. “Sometimes you need to fight back. Biddy still has moments of clarity, she needs to try and remember. We need to challenge her. That swan and dog thing happened twice, that should stick somewhere in her grey matter.”
Biddy said nothing now and just stared sheepishly at the floor.
“What did you see at the lake?” Walter probed his wife.
“A lake? Oh my. But it is dark now!” Biddy protested.
“We are not going to a lake,” Walter said impatiently. “We already went this afternoon. The swans? The dog chasing them? Remember?”
“Swans,” Biddy said, nonsensical. “Swans, ha!”
“This afternoon I took you to the lake, Biddy. There was a dog chasing the swans,” Walter repeated, a bit more patient and encouraging.
“Yes, Biddy. A swan and a dog. By the lake.”
“No, no, no,” Biddy said confused and shook her head. Her eyes looked fearful.
Hanna was quite shocked at the extreme disorientation her mother so suddenly displayed.
“I think you need to leave her alone,” she said quietly to her father. “You are getting her all worked up.”
“Dammit!” Walter hissed. “Why can’t she simply remember?”
He slammed his fist on the table and paced around the room.
“I told you many times,” he said pointedly. “You had a run of very lucky days as far as her illness is concerned. Since you got here she has been in great shape, but there are phases where it is really bad, just like this. She makes no sense at all now, does she?”
“If you know that, why are you pushing her? You are just aggravating her instead of reassuring.”
“As I said, I am trying to get a rise out of her,” Walter explained. “Yes you are right, she has withdrawn now. But I owe it to her as her partner to try, maybe once snap her back to reality, at least give it a good shot. Look at her, she doesn’t seem there, I can’t always watch and accept it, that would be giving up.”
Praise for the Book
"This achingly beautiful swan song is honest, poignant, and ultimately uplifting."
"A compelling, entertaining, and heartfelt story."
"A must read for anyone that has dealt with Alzheimer’s. The book allows us to see this disease for what it is."
"Have Kleenex on hand and know that this emotional story will stay with you, but it is worth the tears."
"A heart-felt and realistic story."
"Simply one of the best books I have ever read."
"A moving and insightful tale."
"An engaging story of how life can get in the way of the things that should really matter and the things that your heart should hold on to."
"Christoph Fischer has done an amazing job with a difficult subject. He shows a lot of understanding of human nature and a great deal of insight."
"A very difficult subject handled beautifully and with delicate sensitivity. Bravo!"
"A fabulous, thought-provoking read."
"Time to Let Go touched me."
"A truly wonderful, brave story."
"The scenes with both elders were frighteningly realistic. This sometimes heart-wrenching story is one not to miss."
Guest Post by Christoph Fischer
My book is inspired by personal experiences with sufferers from the disease. Nowadays, almost everyone knows someone who has relatives with Alzheimer's and gradually stories and anecdotes about these patients have entered the social dinner party circuit and become common knowledge.
Alzheimer's is a dreadful disease that cannot be easily understood in its gravity and the complex, frustrating and far reaching consequences for the victims and their families. There are different stages of the disease as it progresses and patients can move through them at different paces and in varying intensity. My book does not attempt to be a complete representation or a manual of how to deal with the disease. The illness affects every patient differently and there are many stories to tell and many aspects to cover. I hope that I can bring some of those issues to the surface and help to make the gravity of the disease more prominent. I did, however, decide to stay firmly in fiction and family drama territory, and not to write a dramatized documentary on the subject.
I have witnessed several different approaches to handling the disease by both individuals and entire families, and I have learned that the people involved in every case needs to work out what is best for them. In my book, a family work out their particular approach, which is right for them. They have different ideas about it and need to battle it out. These clashes fascinated me and I felt they were worth exploring.
Issues of caring at home, mobile care assistance or institutionalising patients are personal and, depending on where in the world you are, every family has very different options or limitations. The ending in my book must be seen in that context: as an individual "best" solution that uniquely fits the Korhonen family.
As point of first reference and for a more comprehensive and scientific overview of information and help available I recommend: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk in the UK, and http://www.alz.org in the US.
There are support groups, helplines and many other sources available in most countries. These will be able to advise specifically for each individual situation.
I can also recommend Because We Care by Fran Lewis. This fantastic book has a comprehensive appendix with more or less everything you need to know about the disease: Its stages, personal advice on caring, information, tools and help available in the US.
For consistency, I exclusively used material relating to a medium advanced stage of the disease. To protect the privacy and dignity of the patients that inspired the story I have altered all of the events and used both first and second hand experiences and anecdotes. Nothing in this book has actually happened in that way. Apart from some outer parallels between my characters and patients I witnessed, any similarities with real people, alive or dead, are coincidental and unintended.
About the Author
Christoph Fischer was born in Germany as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers, he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he is still resident today.
The Luck of the Weissensteiners, the first book in The Three Nations Trilogy, is Christoph's first published work. Sebastian, the second book in the series, was released in May 2013. The last book in trilogy, The Black Eagle Inn, was released October 2013. His latest, Time to Let Go, has just been released.
Christoph is also a reviewer of independent books and on his recommendation pages on this site he features interviews and reviews of the books that have most captured his attention and appreciation by genre.