The Observer journalist on her father’s dementia, caring for campaigners, and facing her fears in her new book

• Read an extract from What Dementia Teaches Us About Love

Nicci Gerrard is a journalist and campaigner, who writes bestselling novels with her husband under the name Nicci French. She won the 2016 Orwell prize for her reporting on the care of dementia patients in the UK.

What compelled you to write this book?
I didn’t want to write a memoir about my father [John Gerrard, who died in 2014 after 10 years with dementia], partly because there have been lots of wonderful memoirs about dementia and I saw no reason to add another, and partly because he was a private man and I didn’t want to invade his privacy more than necessary. But I did need to write a book about dementia, having witnessed what he went through, and then launching John’s Campaign with my friend Julia Jones. I found myself thinking more and more about what it’s like to live with dementia, and also what dementia teaches us about our sense of self, how we value people, and what it is to be vulnerable. It profoundly shook up the way that I thought about all of those things.


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19 April 2019