Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and book lovers, please lend me your ears…
We are in congregation here to celebrate the publication of a book by Jane Haynes and Martin Scurr, which Hilary Mantel described as ‘a provocative insight into bodies and souls’.
Hilary should know, for she herself through her own work never shies away from expressing her own thoughts – however much these may cause controversy in certain quarters of the literary world and beyond.
I expect the world of medicine has its own pioneers as well, who are not afraid to delve more into the psyches of their patients and exchange concerns as these often help recovery and promote a better understanding of the roots of the problem.
When Judy Daish, the illustrious agent, rang me about the manuscript and told me briefly about its contents I was curious and intrigued, as the world of medicine is not in my view a subject which is an entertaining read likely to turn into a commercial success.
But I was infinitely wrong, for having begun to read it I found myself hooked and could not put it down.
Moreover, I learnt a great deal about doctors who are vulnerable to the many things their patients feel.
It is a book that, according to Dr Thomas Stuttaford, ‘dissects medical lives and minds with the dedication of a pathologist performing an autopsy’.
In brief, this is a ‘story’ book about medicine, body, mind, doctors and caprices of human nature written by a well-known doctor, Martin Scurr, who has seen every untidy vagary of disease, and a best-selling author and psychotherapist, Jane Haynes, who has listened to personal narratives that rival the visceral emotions of King Lear. Doctors – who at their most profound are mercurial messengers between life and death, and who at a more comedic level must suffer our jiggling body parts – are also ordinary men and women struggling to make sense of their existence.
I could carry on talking about this remarkable book for a long time, but brevity in this case is the better option.
The book must be read in its totality to give the reader its proper impact.
My role as the publisher is simply to convince you that Doctors Dissected is a book you should devour, so to speak, in a colloquial manner, for you will acquire a rare knowledge almost impulsively lacking in most of us and somehow feel the better for it.
So I urge all you assembled here tonight to buy a copy of the book and, if you can afford it, perhaps more than one to give to a friend. The best accolade authors can have is to see their book flying off the shelves. Let us witness this happening this evening in order to foresee further triumphs in the marketplace.