Friday 30 October 2020

The Breath of Sadness by Ian Ridley @IanRidley1 #TheBreathOfSadness #BookReview


When Ian Ridley's wife, the trailblazing sports reporter Vikki Orvice, died of cancer at the age of 56, he found himself plunged deep into a sadness that he expected and a world of madness that he did not. In an attempt to make sense of it all and seek some solace from the brutality of his grief and anxiety, he embarks on a summer of watching county cricket. Reliving bitter-sweet memories in places he and Vikki had visited together, he is alternately unnerved and consoled by the ebbs and flows of his mourning. But gradually, against a backdrop of the County Championship's peace and solitude - with the sun on his back and tea, cake and crossword at his side - he finds a way to survive the rhythms and cadences of his grief. The Breath of Sadness is an unflinching account of how we carry on when we are left behind, and a poignant, tender and candid exploration of love and loss.

The Breath of Sadness by Ian Ridley was published in hardback on 14 July 2020 by Floodlit Dreams. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

Those who feel the breath of sadness
Sit down next to me
Lyric from Sit Down by James (1989)

The lyric, taken from the 1989 single Sit Down by James are the words that Ian Ridley used when he announced the death of his dearly-loved wife Vikki Orvice.
Vikki was a young woman, a talented and much-praised sports journalist who died of cancer.

The Breath of Sadness is Ian's tribute to Vikki. It's a searingly honest, and quite beautifully written account of their life, their love and their shared interests. 
Ian decision to spend the summer following Vikki's death following County cricket matches; travelling to various grounds, taking in afternoon teas and watching the sport that they both enjoyed was part of his healing process. Even though I know nothing at all about cricket, I do know about love and about loss and Ian's words are tenderly put together. This is a book that is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time.

Whilst this is without doubt a love-letter to his beloved wife, the author doesn't paint Vikki as saintly and without fault, he also looks at his own perceived failings in life. It is this honesty and bravery that makes this book so special. I felt as though I knew Vikki and Ian, and their enduring and love for each other shines through.  Like Ian, I wish they'd met each other sooner, I wish they'd had more years together, both in their younger years and in their future.

I'd urge everyone to read this. If you have lost someone, it may bring you comfort to know that you are not alone and that grief is a many faceted thing that affects us all in different ways. There are no right or wrong ways to deal with grief and it's clear that Ian Ridley has slowly and steadily worked through his emotions here. 

A love story, a tribute to a woman who gave much to the world and a deeply personal book.

Ian Ridley is the author of 12 sports books, including the No.1 best-selling Addicted with the former Arsenal and England captain, Tony Adams, which was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. 
Over a 40-year career, he has written for numerous publications, including the Guardian, the Observer, the Independent on Sunday and the Mail on Sunday, for whom he was chief football writer, and was named Sports Journalist of the Year in the 2007 British Press Awards. 

He has also written TV scripts, for Sky One's Dream Team, and a novel, The Outer Circle.

Twitter @IanRidley1

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