JOANNA CANNON ‘Breaking & Mending’
in conversation with David Howard
Thursday 28th November, 7.30pm
at URC Hall, High Street, Church Stretton, SY6 6BY
Tickets £5 from Burway Books
Joanna Cannon is the author of the Sunday Times bestsellers, ‘The Trouble with Goats and Sheep’, which was published in fifteen languages, and ‘Three Things About Elsie’, longlisted for the Women’s Prize. Her novels have sold over half a million copies in the UK alone. Her love of narrative had always drawn her to psychiatry, but it wasn’t until her thirties that she decided to go to back to university to study medicine. Before specialising in psychiatry, she rotated through a series of hospital jobs, from A&E to palliative care.
“A few years ago, I found myself in A&E. I had never felt so ill. I was mentally and physically broken. So fractured, I hadn’t eaten properly or slept well, or even changed my expression for months. I sat in a cubicle, behind paper-thin curtains and I shook with the effort of not crying. I was an inch away from defeat… but I knew I had to carry on. Because I wasn’t the patient. I was the doctor.”
In this powerful memoir, Joanna Cannon tells her story as a junior doctor in visceral, heart-rending snapshots. We walk with her through the wards, facing extraordinary and daunting moments: from attending her first post-mortem, sitting with a patient through their final moments, to learning the power of a well- or badly chosen word. These moments, and the small sustaining acts of kindness and connection that punctuate hospital life, teach her that emotional care and mental health can be just as critical as restoring a heartbeat.
In a profession where weakness remains a taboo, this moving, beautifully written book brings to life the vivid, human stories of doctors and patients – and shows us why we need to take better care of those who care for us.