The Alarming Palsy of James Orr by Tom Lee

Review published on December 1, 2017.

James Orr is a pleasant young man, with a happy life, good job, perfect family of a wife and two children, a young son and a slightly older daughter. He lives on a pretty housing estate, surrounded by fields and woodland, gets on well with his neighbours and even chairs the Residents’ Association.

All is well with his life and his world until one morning he wakes up and sees that one side of his face is completely frozen, turning him into, as the author calls it, “a melted waxwork”. A visit to the doctor finds him given a diagnosis of Bells’ Palsy. The doctor is unable to tell him how long, if ever, it will take for his face to return to normal.

From the beginning of his affliction, his life starts to fall apart and the author gives us a complete understanding of what it must feel like to suffer from this ailment. The job he loved is now on hold as he feels unable to return to work with such a disfigurement, which makes even the smallest of tasks, like talking and even eating, very difficult. As the days pass, his nights are sleepless and he struggles not to nap for long periods during the day and the palsy seems to take over his whole being.

This is a reasonably quick read as there are only 153 pages and it is a page turner as the reader is following his trials and tribulations and hoping that he is able to overcome this dreadful palsy and return to his normal life. I really warmed to James Orr and was eager for the book to reach a happy conclusion, but whether it does or not I shan’t say, you need to read the book yourself to find out. It certainly is thought provoking and an uncomfortable read at times.

Patricia Thompson 5/5

The Alarming Palsy of James Orr by Tom Lee
Granta Books 9781783783939 hbk Nov 2017


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