Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Monday, April 28, 2003  

Late last year I read a book - such as it was - titled Murphy Unmasked, by Gwyneth Shand. I say "such as it was" since it wasn't really a book at all but a very slim confessional, of Shand's months in hospital battling cancer. However you define it, Murphy Unmasked was by far the best bit of prose published in Trinidad last year that I read; a limpid, unsentimental account of Shand's experiences, written without any false reticence, detailing the trials she underwent during her confinement. Through it all Shand kept (a sometimes morbid) sense of humour, and an optimism buoyed by her religious faith - though this was by no means a preachy or self-righteous volume. (It was also, indirectly, a severe indictment of this country's appalling public health service.)

Today I learned that Gwyneth Shand died last Saturday, of a stroke. She was 48.

Though I only knew her through Murphy Unmasked, for certain reasons I felt as if I was better acquainted with her than that, even intimately, beyond those brief pages, those handfuls of words.

So throughout what will be a typically rushed, busy Monday, I will try as much as I can to keep this remarkable woman in my thoughts; a woman I never knew, and will never forget.

posted by Jonathan | 9:25 AM 0 comments


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