Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: Marianne Sciucco's Blue Hydrangeas

A member of an online writer's community I am part of brought the movie Still Alice to my attention. I'd heard good things about the book (should I admit that I haven't read it yet?) and the fact that a movie is being released about it got me thinking about all the other books out there that deal with Alzheimer's and dementia. There are probably dozens on the subject (for sure nonfiction, but I'm talking fiction here) that I didn't know about or haven't read. Anyway, because of this conversation, I was able to connect with an amazing writer who lives thousands of miles away from me that I maybe wouldn't have heard of any other way. I was given the opportunity to listen to her audio book. I thoroughly enjoyed her moving story with a similar topic as mine but handled in a beautiful, yet different way, and I'm hoping she's working on another book right now because I look forward to reading more from her.

My Review:

If you liked  the movie or the book Still Alice, or my book, Still Time, and are looking for more great fiction about Alzheimer's, I recommend Marianne Sciucco's Blue Hydrangeas. The novel is a sweet love story between a woman with Alzheimer's and her companion and caregiver, her husband of many years. It is tender and touching, confronting many of the issues and concerns a spouse must deal with as a primary caregiver. Marianne does a fabulous job describing the unfolding, discovery, and progression of the disease. It is beautifully written, and I especially loved the last third of the book. (I'd tell you about it, but I don't do spoilers. Just know I think it ends perfectly--a little bit of adventure and a lot of love.) The writing is poetic, the setting idyllic (my next vacation spot?), and the story both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. Blue Hydrangeas is beautifully crafted. The the pacing perfect, the story poignant. It perfectly describes the unfolding, discovery, and progression of the disease along with its myriad challenges and issues, yet leaves the reader with a sense of hope and a belief in the enduring power of love.

Blue Hydrangeas by Marianne Sciucco

What if the person who knew you best and loved you most forgot your face, and couldn’t remember your name?

A nursing facility is everyone's solution for what to do about Sara, but her husband Jack can't bear to live without her. He is committed to saving his marriage, his wife, and their life together from the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease. He and Sara retired years ago to the house of their dreams and operated it as a Cape Cod bed and breakfast named Blue Hydrangeas. Jack has made an impossible promise: He and Sara will stay together in their beautiful home no matter what the disease brings. However, after nine years of selfless caregiving complicated by her progressing Alzheimer’s and his own failing heart, he finally admits he can no longer care for her at home. With reluctance, he arranges to admit her to an assisted living facility. But on the day of admission, Sara is having one of her few good days and he is unable to follow through. Instead, he takes them on an impulsive journey to confront their past and reclaim their future. In the end, he realizes that staying together at any cost is what truly matters.

Meet the Author:


Marianne Sciucco is not a nurse who writes but a writer who happens to be a nurse. A lover of words and books, she dreamed of becoming an author when she grew up but became a nurse to avoid poverty. She later brought her two passions together and writes about the intricate lives of people struggling with health and family issues. Her debut novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story, is a Kindle bestseller, IndieReader Approved, a BookWorks Book of the Week, a Reader’s Favorite, and winner of IndieReCon’s Best Indie Novel Award. A native Bostonian, she lives in New York’s Hudson Valley and, when not writing, works as a campus nurse at a community college. She loves books, the beach, and craft beer, and especially enjoys the three of them together.

What inspired you to write a book about Alzheimer’s?

One day at work as a hospital case manager, I met a fascinating couple who were in their 80’s. She was a lovely woman, so pretty, and had Alzheimer’s. I’d ask her a question and she’d try to answer, but then say, “Oh, I’m so mixed up,” and laugh, quite charming.  Her husband was frail, an amiable sort of guy, and devoted to her.  My job was to assist with the discharge plan, which was for her to go to a local nursing home for rehab (she’d broken her pelvis) the next day. I discussed the arrangements with her and her husband. Their son was also present, and he told me to make sure his parents didn’t leave the hospital without him; he planned to drive them to the nursing home and assist with the admissions process. Later on, I couldn’t stop thinking about that couple, wondering what would happen if they left the hospital without their son. Where would they go?  What would they do?  Thus, the seeds of Blue Hydrangeas were sown, my wild writer’s imagination took off, and the story began to grow.

I worked on this book eleven years.  It sounds crazy, I know, but after I finished what I thought was the final draft and sent it out into the literary market place with no takers, I continued to tweak it, cutting scenes, adding others.  In the midst of all this, I developed repetitive strain injuries from an inappropriate computer workstation at my job, and everything just stopped.  I could no longer write.  I put everything aside for a couple of years.  But the story haunted me, and when I was able to I continued to revise and rework the manuscript.  Two years ago a friend suggested I publish on Kindle and I figured I had nothing to lose.  It took me a year to prepare and publish the book.  My book is unique because there aren’t many novels about Alzheimer’s, although 5.5 million people are suffering from it right now.

A Video Interview with Marianne Sciucco:

Blue Hydrangeas is available in Audiobook, eBook and Paperback
AudibleAmazonBarnes & Noble • iBookKobo

Don't forget to add Blue Hydrangeas to your Goodreads bookshelf.

In addition to Goodreads, you can connect with Marianne Sciucco in the following online venues: