Review of ‘I Am, I Am, I Am’ by Maggie O’Farrell

It’s difficult to review a perfect book. There is literally nothing about this memoir that could be improved upon. I could leave it there and make this a really short review… but that seems like cheating.

Maggie O’Farrell was well known for her fiction before publishing this book. She has successfully used her amazing writing skills to create a unique exploration of life, loss, memory and the human experience. I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death is one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. Not only is her writing style and her content compelling; the angle of this book is interesting, with short chapters examining the events which happened at different times in her life (and not in chronological order, either – one of the most vital episodes, a dangerous illness when she was eight, occurs near the end of the book). It’s these ‘brushes with death’ – twists of fate, causes and effects, choices made – which support the message that life is for living, because you don’t know what may happen. Uncertainty is with us always and we have to accept that.

Some of the content is uncomfortable, even painful to read. But it’s to be expected in a memoir, because whose life doesn’t include some form of pain, tragedy, conflict, awkwardness? There’s a note at the end of my edition (Tinder Press, 2018 – Waterstones exclusive) in which the author discusses how she went from fiction to memoir. It’s fascinating, because fiction is an escape, a made-up story, but often contains elements of an author’s own life story. This makes the fiction seem more realistic to the reader.

This book is worth the hype – it’s not often I say that. I finished it two days ago and I’m still thinking about it. Usually, a book will vanish from my head as soon as I finish the story. But not this one.

15 thoughts on “Review of ‘I Am, I Am, I Am’ by Maggie O’Farrell”

  1. I loved it too! And I felt the same, there was nothing to say except read this book please ? great review and picture wih the kitty!

    1. Yep, it’s a must-read!
      The kitty is called Archie. He likes books. Preferably print books so he can rub his face against them and transfer his fluffy hairs inside.

  2. I read this a few months ago and felt the same way about it that you did – this book is very difficult to review! I don’t want to spoil the book for anyone, but I couldn’t help but feel that maybe she should stay away from the sea…?

    1. Ha ha, indeed – agree with you! She’s quite a risk taker, unlike me. I also admire that she doesn’t let her impaired senses get in the way of what she wants to do. It’s a great book which is why I struggled to review it, words seemed inadequate. Thanks for your comment πŸ™‚

  3. Oh wow, this sounds so meaningful and intense! I’ve been wondering whether I should read it, seems like it’s not to be missed. Great review!

    1. Thanks for your comment! Yes I definitely recommend it, I really couldn’t fault the writing πŸ™‚

  4. My oh my. I’ve been trying reeeeally hard not to add this to my TBR. But after reading your review, I just gotta have it! This isn’t good for my TBR, NS!!!! πŸ˜› Great review once again!

    1. Oops, sorry to add another book to your teetering TBR. Maybe you could have a one in, one out policy? Add this book and boot another one out πŸ™‚
      Thanks for your comment!

      1. Always love reading your posts πŸ˜‰ I guess I’m just gonna take the easy way out and just add it to my TBR…. πŸ˜€

  5. Fantastic review! Coincidentally I’m hoping to publish my review for this book either today or tomorrow and I’m so happy you loved it as much as I did. It’s very difficult to forget a book like this! ?

    1. Thank you! Yes it’s one of those unforgettable books. It’s back on my shelf, which means I’ll definitely read it again in the future. I look forward to reading your review πŸ™‚

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