Ruth Cracknell was born 6th July 1925 and died on 13th May 2002. She was a wonderful actress being most noted for playing Mrs Beare in Mother and Son. I remember as being a wonderful Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Ernest.
I’ve always been fascinated by her. I recall seeing her interviewed and wished I could have met her to ask her more questions, sadly that interview was played just after her death. The next best thing is to read her books. She has written several memoirs and I was lucky to get hold of a copy of Journey From Venice. This memoir is the story of her husband’s illness in Venice and subsequent death in Sydney.
The writing is compelling and honest. I feel as if I was there with her, I feel the streets of Venice, I feel the delight she feels at being there, but most of all I feel her emotion. I cried buckets over those last few days in Venice and the evacuation of Eric (her husband) to Sydney. I’ve been crying more buckets of tears while reading the end of Eric’s life. The illness was so totally devastating to Ruth, but she managed to pull herself together and keep going just for him. She talks about times when she could just walk away and not come back, to stop herself doing that she doesn’t leave the room. I love the way a person can be that devoted to someone else that they make themselves stay even though it hurts so much.
When Eric finally does die we get to see the whole process. With every other book I’ve read where someone dies we don’t get to see the emotions that go through the author when they have to call their children in and when their loved one finally does die, but Ruth has her heart totally on her sleeve and we see every single bit. It must have hurt her again to write it down for us, but she did and in such a way that I believe it should remain a classic for all time.
I seriously loved this book. I recommend it but I also recommend you have a box of tissues with you while reading.