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Honest, intelligent and unsentimental, Patient 1 is a startling self-portrait written with wit and vulnerability, and a unique testament to the power of hope in the face of illness.
Charlotte Raven had never heard of Huntington's Disease when, in her mid-thirties, she discovered that her father was suffering from the illness. Life for her and her young family would never be the same again.
Patient 1 is her brutally candid account of coming to terms with this inherited neurodegenerative disease, which can manifest at any time in life for people who carry the faulty gene. As the illness began to take hold of Raven's body, mind and memory, she began to write. She wrote like her life depended on it - and in many ways she believed it did. Frank and fearless, Patient 1 is an act of self-preservation and a kind of reckoning: with the illness, with the person she once was, with the person she is now.
In an afterword, Raven's doctor Ed Wild - one of the country's leading experts in Huntington's - explains how doctors and patients like Charlotte are working together in the hope of one day eliminating this disease altogether.
A searingly honest and important read. With neither pity nor sentimentality, Charlotte Raven captures the experience of living while losing one's mind. I cannot forget her words.-- Dr Rachel Clarke
This is a deeply moving and profound memoir about facing the worst in life - and continuing. Everyone should read it.-- Johann Hari
Patient 1 charts Charlotte Raven's bittersweet journey from her charmed, hedonist youth to an embattled future. Her charismatic character and scandalous humour is there on the page despite the creeping privations of Huntington's. With the kind of self-knowledge only accessible through suffering, she still manages to write powerfully and with beauty.-- Cornelia Parker