Sometimes perhaps a short life and a happy one is better than anything we doctors have to offer. This is the proverbial "life-changing" book.
Dr James LeFanu in the Daily Telegraph
This book tells the story of Simon, a water engineer, his wife Jane, a GP, their children and their years in Nepal. Both working with Nepalis, their love of the country, its culture and people shine though. There are vivid descriptions of local life, mountain treks, wildlife, flowers, the baking heat and dramatic monsoons. But more than this, it is a book about their family. Their eldest son, Alexander, is three when they arrive. He adapts to his new life easily and happily. His younger brother, David, is disabled. The Nepalis understanding and acceptance of his multiple challenges is heartwarming - and there is a thread of joy in David's life that runs through the book and is genuinely moving. Narrated by Jane, it is well written and carefully observed, I loved this book and highly recommend it.
Listed as one of ten great books set in the Himalayas
Your story had so many layers to it, one minute I was sad the next smiling, then marvelling at how realistic you were, the imagery of cherubs…I loved it
Kim Napier of World Nomads
"vividly drawn... as much about the terrain and wildlife in rural Nepal, Jane's experiences offering basic medical care to Nepalis, Simon's river projects, Alexander's engagement with new friends and the often comic recollections of setting up home, as about David's life.... beautifully depicted.. a family at peace with the choices they made to give their children the best life possible.”
I couldn't put this book down, the writing was so beautiful. I found I needed to follow every day of little David's life.
Ken Elliott, Darwin in the Northern Territory, Australia
Towering snow-covered Himalayan peaks on the cover attracted my interest initially, however after a couple of chapters I was struggling to get into this book, its content focused on pregnancy, rigours of childbirth and a handicapped newborn.
Not really my idea of a mountain adventure. The book features the Wilson-Howarth family. Jane, mother and trained paediatrician, is the author. Husband Simon works on infrastructure projects for a world aid agency. Their children are Alexander, an active pre-schooler, and newborn David, who with cleft palate and severe yet undiagnosed neurological problems, promises to turn their world upside down.
The author struggles as intuition and professional knowledge forces her to face David's degree of impairment and uncertain future. Medical colleagues add to the worries, viewing her newborn as "an interesting case", but not talking openly or honestly about his prognosis. Chapter two passes by and I am really not attached to this story, too many hospital scenes and worrisome kids.
The family then faces a choice. Stay and endure the best and worst of interventions modern medicine and surgery provide, or escape to a simple life in Nepal where another infrastructure project beckons, and enjoy the limited time they may have with their impaired son and brother.
In Nepal things are looking better. We are out of the hospital ward, and the children become just part of the story as they struggle to cope in a hot and very different environment. The author leads her family in small adventures as they sample a culture steeped in superstition, prejudice, poverty and cultural divides.
By chapter 10 I am really enjoying this book, there are no epic events - as is often the case with living in foreign cultures, it is the small things that make the interesting tales.
The real epic, however, is played out in David's slow physical and mental progress and the couple's tortured self doubt over their non-intervention strategy to hopefully provide him with a better quality of life.
The conclusion is in some ways surprising, beautifully expressed. It tells of how a family held true to a belief that quality of life mattered most, and how their Nepal experiences equipped them well to maintain that belief.
In postscript notes, the author says the script started as a travel narrative but developed into a story incorporating David's birth and struggles. She has blended his story into the travel narrative beautifully.
— NB this bloke reviewer thought this one gets better as it goes along —
Ken Callagher - Waikato Times (NZ)
Wilson-Howarth does, as is expected, notice the dirt, the lack of hygiene and the poverty, but the flame of the forest blazes brighter than all that, setting her firmly apart from many expats who treat their Third World experiences as a kind of slum tourism.
Outlook magazine, New Delhi
A poignant memoir of a family trying to make a difference in Nepal, while raising a child who has been written off by medics. Its a tail of courage, love, humour and healing.
The Reading Agency
An emotional rollercoaster. Couldn't recommend this book more. If you have spent any time in Nepal, it will bring back fond memories. And if you haven't spent time in Nepal, the book has so so much more to offer around a number of important topics.
I love this book. It’s an open and honest account of Jane’s care for her disabled son, making life-changing decisions, and stresses and fears about whether they had made the right ones.
It’s also about Jane’s love for her son, her family, nature, humanity, languages and cultures.
It’s a wonderful balance of living in a very different culture and landscape, her husband’s difficult work there, health, family life, travel, and wildlife. She gives evocative descriptions of the bugs, sounds, colours, people and unbelievable landscapes of Nepal.
Jane’s voice is easy to listen to, her gentle humour, her utter sadness and joy of life. Amazing.
Eleanor reviewing the audiobook
Thoroughly engrossing tale of the author's family's life in a remote Nepalese village. Loved reading it as it brought back so many memories of my own trips to Nepal.
Books don't get more inspirational than A Glimpse of Eternal Snows.
An easy read that took me right back to my days in northern India, although it is about an English family’s adventures in southern Nepal. I loved this book and wanted to stay in its world forever.
a beautiful book... an insightful account of motherhood and a fascinating portrayal of living as an expat in Nepal. I loved your attention to the natural world around you.
Patrick Chadwick, filmmaker
an acclaimed memoir
I have to confess an interest here, since it was me that urged Jane to write a book about her son David. When she told me his story I was so moved, and inspired, by her decision to take this sick child to Nepal, that I knew that she must share her story with other parents and other adventurers. I’ve known Jane as a travel writer for years, but this book reaches a new level, part travel, part poignant human-interest. With its twin strands describing the trials and rewards of practising medicine in a remote Nepali village, and the locals’ warm affection with little David, it’s funny, moving and inspiring in turns.
A commanding story about life in Nepal. It considers difficult problems surrounding disability and the ethics of who should be treated - or not. It contrasts Western views of imperfection and death with more tolerant, fatalistic views in Nepal. Valuable to those caring for disabled children, health professionals can learn from her experiences and enjoy a good read.
Journal of the British Global & Travel Health Association
A Glimpse of Eternal Snows captivated us all and within days of receiving the manuscript, we knew that we simply had to publish this book. Jane writes beautifully and while her account of her son's life is very poignant, it is not in any way self-indulgent. We simply get to know her and her family so well, that the choices that they make, heart
rending though they may be, make perfect sense to us. In addition, Jane's huge love of Nepal, the people, the scenery, the culture and language is spell binding. I am the last person in the world who would consider a trekking
holiday in Nepal to be a fun thing to do, but after reading this book, I was ready to pack my bags and head for the airport.
It is a rare experience in publishing, to begin a manuscript and to be so captivated by it that you know that you simply have to have it. I had that experience, and so did everyone at Murdoch Books and we are truly thrilled and delighted to have this wonderful book on our Pier 9 list.
Juliet Rogers CEO Murdoch books
Featured by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire and Cambridgeshire Libraries' BOOK A DAY IN MAY literary celebration
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
Wilson-Howarth is a very accomplished travel writer and the account of the family's 200 mile trek with a three year old in tow is nothing short of mind-boggling
An extraordinary book - all Jane's books are fascinating
Micaela Amateau Amato
When I read the media release for this book I thought “Oh no, it’s going to be a real tear jerker” and I put it aside to concentrate on other more worldly tomes. I could not have been more wrong, and it will be a very long time before I forget this book. In fact, I hope I never do.
David, Dr Jane Wilson-Howarth’s second son, was born with serious neurological disorders. Battle after battle with the medical profession, who had diagnosed David as severely retarded, forced the family to make a life changing decision. To stay in England, where David had access to the best medical services or return to Nepal, where they could make his short life one worth living.
Against huge opposition, they returned to Nepal and that’s where this story of courage, love and beauty really begins. It’s a shared story of adventure, colour and humanity. The shining thread that pulls the book together is their love for their ‘beautiful boy’ and the disparity between the embarrassment they encountered back home to the Nepalese people’s huge love and admiration for David’s differences.
It is a celebration of life, beautifully written with clearness devoid of any self-indulgent grief or blame. David’s differences are woven tenderly within the descriptions of the vibrant Nepalese culture and the family that adored him. It’s a story of triumph and a glimpse of eternal snows. I’m very glad I read it.
Deb Perry The Sunshine Coast Daily www.thedaily.com.au
I loved reading about little David... who sounds as though he had a short but very colourful life full of love. You really described his bubbly character and I loved the descriptions and picture of him... sounding so happy and contented. Your book has been particularly useful at the moment for me... I am struggling with my nine month old baby who has started waking for long periods at night and for feeds. I found your book so refreshing to read - on how you coped with three small children under such difficult circumstances... I was also reassured that you fed Sebastian in the middle of the night when he was a year. In the era of Gina Ford and the 'feeling you are getting it wrong' it is so lovely to hear about someone who did things so differently.
Julie W, Saffron Walden
“Your book is beautifully written and it is an incredibly important story to tell.”
Dr Clare Goodhart
Wonderful and moving... reading this book is effortless - as if just chatting to the author
Peter Pitt FRCS, FRCP author of A Surgeon in Nepal and The Scalpel & the Kukri review in The Writer: Journal of the Society of Medical Writers
I have just today finished your book A Glimpse of Eternal Snows and want to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I admire your decision to take your son David away from what would have been an never ending round of doctors and treatment had you remained in England yet it cannot have been an easy decision to make and carry through. I think however you can take pride that, in the final analysis, it was the correct decision. You gave him as happy a life as it was possible for him to have - you should be proud of your son and the life you gave him.
The narrative is both insightful and beautifully textured. I just loved the descriptions of life in Nepal and all the wildlife in your book - it was all so very evocative. In total a wonderful read and the sort of book that stays with you after finishing it.
Lesley Stoddart by email April 2011
I read this on my first trip to Nepal and finished it all too soon. As a lone female traveller I found Jane's courage both in Nepal and in writing this account hugely inspiring.
lone female traveller
What an amazing read this was. I was sorry to come to the end but hoping Jane will write the next part of her story very soon.
The book is beautifully produced and presented, and wonderfully written, leading the reader on through the story that grips at every turn with artistic descriptive work and tantalising insights into life far from home. Jane is able to paint pictures of people and wildlife so well with her words.
The story centres on her family, husband Simon and their two children, Alexander and David. David was born with medical problems and disabilities. Jane's description of the emotions this evoked within the family from even before the doctors' diagnoses are a must read for the medical profession and anyone with friends or family living with a child with significant medical problems.
Posted on fishpond
Well written. I felt like I was there. Heart wrenching, following little David’s illness. I laughed at his happiness. And cried at the end. The author made you feel like part of her family.
A moving, honest account of Dr. Wilson-Howarth's time in Nepal with her family, and the loss of her beautiful son. She is a talented writer, and gives vivid descriptions of her surroundings, and writes honestly about the joys and struggles her family went through.
I read this book in almost one sitting. Even stopping for a cup of tea seemed a distraction. It is a sad tale but ultimately very uplifting. It shows the nature of love and loss. It is written by author who loves Nepal and this shines through. Brilliant book.
This astonishing true story tells of a mother's heart wrenching decision to stay in her homeland of England so her ill son can receive the best of medical care... or return to her adoptive home of Nepal so he can live life free of the constraints of being labelled a fascinating medical case... this book is brimming with wonderful evocative images from Rajapur Island, Nepal. The backdrop is breathtaking and its people wonderful. Highly recommended.
A Glimpse of Eternal Snows evoked such strong memories of our time spent in Biratnagar when our daughters were just 18 months and three and a half years; the vignettes you painted of the everyday events in your life mirrored many of our experiences - bitter sweet, breath-taking, difficult, enjoyable, heartbreaking, the whole gambit.
Well done for writing about such a personal tragedy, but also a personal success.
Alan Beadle, water engineer
compelling reading, with a blend of personal adversity, humour and information about Nepal. I sat with the atlas beside me following your journeys. David's life may have been short but even the most serious 'interesting cases' recognise and respond to love. He was truely blessed.
Hilary Furlong, Suffolk
I was greatly relieved to find [that this book is] completely unsentimental yet at the same time very moving... The most powerful impression that remains is of the great vibrancy of Nepal and its people... The prose is consistently good and at times quite exquisite. It seems a very bold thing to write a book which is simultaneously a family memoir, a travel book, a social observation of a poor country, a natural history and an adventure story. Jane has managed to do so outstandingly well.
Harry Goode, Cambridge Writers
This book will stay with me for some time, the intimate account of the author’s thoughts and feelings throughout this journey made me feel much more present than any other book.
I'm immersed in writing about mothering young children with disabilities (specifically vision impairment, but most of them have/had other conditions), and by night in bed I'm reading your book, which is fantastic, and gives me a whole extra level of insight, especially the first part about the health services. The different themes in the book come together brilliantly, David, Nepal, the health issues, the family, Simon's work, the wildlife, etc, and make it a really good read.
absolutely fantastic; really beautifully written. I spent the whole weekend reading it and it's given me itchy feet to go and do some useful engineering. I love all the animal descriptions, especially the birds with saucy scarlet bottoms.
Tom Newby, development engineer
I have just today finished your book A Glimpse of Eternal Snows and want to say how much I enjoyed it. I admire your decision to take your son David away from what would have been an never ending round of doctors and treatment had you remained in England yet it cannot have been an easy decision to make and carry through. I think however you can take pride that, in the final analysis, it was the correct decision. You gave him as happy a life as it was possible for him to have.... you should be proud of your son and the life you gave him. I know you really are proud of him so do not ever feel you should hide his existence.
I just loved the descriptions of life in Nepal and all the wildlife in your book - it was all so very evocative. In total a wonderful read and the sort of book that stays with you for a while after finishing it.
Lesley by email
"This is a moving but incredibly satisfying story, full of sadness and difficult choices."
Good Book Guide
With a title like that you know this book is going to be sad. Surprisingly I didn’t feel sad until the end. The story is actually very uplifting. You feel for the family having a son born with profound disabilities, but the pleasure they receive from his short life and the decision to spend that time in Nepal, is full of hope. The British medical system is deemed to be the devil in this book. The family wanted to be left alone to enjoy their child for a long as they had. I was at first like the grandmother in the story who questioned the decision to take the child from the best medical care, but when you look at the quality of life and love he had in Nepal, without medical intervention, the decision seemed very wise. The mother, who was also a doctor, was full of angst about the decision. It was incredibly moving to read about her guilt and uncertainty but eventual faith in what the family decided to do.
I'm another Murdoch's author (Holding up the Sky). Diana, my editor, often slips me books to read in the Pier 9 line and I've just finished yours. I thoroughly enjoyed it and loved getting to know David. What a gift! It saddens me to hear that people in England wouldn't even acknowledge his existence. I'm so glad you changed the focus of the book and put him in the centre of it. I've enjoyed my daily bus rides into Sydney from the Northern Beaches, having you, David, Simon, Alexander and Sebastian for company.
Sandy Blackburn-Wright www.wrightings.com.au
Heart-breaking and life-affirming account of how a Cambridge medical doctor struggled to come to terms with her second child’s disability and how she and her husband fought to make his short life one worth living. Against much opposition from the medical establishment, they returned to Nepal, where they were involved in development work, and where the Nepalese people’s embrace of their ‘beautiful boy’ was in cheering contrast to the silence and embarrassment they had encountered back home. "Jane writes beautifully and while her account of her son's life is very poignant, it is not in any way self-indulgent. .... In addition, Jane's huge love of Nepal, the people, the scenery, the culture and language is spell binding.
Juliet Rogers, MD, Murdoch Books
thanks for sharing your family's life in Nepal. A Glimpse of Eternal Snows was a very moving story, especially of David's life. On my recent visit to Nepal I had the privilege of visiting the British cemetery and David's grave. It was a peaceful lovely place, with red bougainvilleas in flower. Your book was also a useful reference guide on my trip.
consistently brilliant; a joy to get lost in...
JW - Surrey
I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your book. I found it very moving and read the last chapter through tears. I loved the way you wrote about David and he will stay with me for a long time: you painted him so vividly.
Carrie Boyes, London
This book was also a wonderful travelogue of Nepal. The family did some inspiring treks with all very young children in tow. You realise that nothing is impossible. It was funny and enlightening to read her descriptions of the different Nepalese people, their caste structure and different racial tensions. She describes their simple but very impoverished lives with compassion. Their bleak medical system and very strange approach to western medicine mixed with local healing customs was both amusing and sad. Wilson-Howarth was totally shocked and frustrated by the lack of interest in preventative medicine locally. In turn, the Nepalese were often shocked at how the British family lived. They often wandered in and out of their home to check them out. The concept of privacy and ownership were very wavy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It took the reader on both a spiritual and physical armchair journey.
jenny hogan's blog
I’ve recently got to the end of your Glimpse of Eternal Snows book, and just wanted to say a huge thanks for writing it and sharing such personal experiences. I love Nepal, and am a GP trainee, so found the mix of experiences really engaging – and it has really given me cause to reflect on how I interact with disabled children and their parents, so I’m sure it will have a positive impact on my practice for the future.
Dr Helen Ashdown
reading your book has made me really nostalgic for the country even though we were only there for just over two weeks.
Michelle Hogg, Woodbridge
such a good book... beautifully written... sensitive. Books which one actually looks forward to going to bed to read each night seem to get more scarce, but this is certainly one of them.
Maggie F, Elmsett, Suffolk
I did a desert island discs today and I chose A Glimpse of Eternal Snows as my book; the audience thoroughly enjoyed hearing about it. Your language got a couple of room-roars of laughter and I think they understood it was my choice because it's the book that has it all.
Ali Denham, Kingsbridge
a beautiful book, uplifting and inspiring
Ben Spencer, Oxford
moving, insightful and generous hearted book
Nick Austin, editor
thought-provoking reading for medical students!
Ann Allison RGN
A rainy couple of days gave me the ideal opportunity to curl up and read your book. It is a riveting and deeply emotional tale and I am full of admiration for you on many levels. It is an overwhelming tale of grief; denial, anger fiercely directed against the clever doctors, guilt and I hope ultimately resolution, because here is a book of triumph of David's short life. I clearly remember coming to visit you on the first trip back to England with David. Alexander was out with friends and I played on the floor with David and remember his smile and infectious laugh. You told me of your trek and how the children had joined you, carried by the guides and how David had thrived in Nepal. So I remember him. David was loved and cherished, accepted and stimulated and he has enriched the lives of others and will continue to do so through your book.
You are poetic in your description of the countryside and wildlife. It is obviously your passion and your spiritual solace. I had a strong feeling of what it was like to live and work in Rajapur. Reading the book, I travelled into a world of my own and I have also spent the last two days reminiscing about PNG. You are very honest about the challenges you faced and I admire your strength of character and determination. The country and cultures are totally different but we have shared some of the experiences of being a third world expatriate. I lived in a town of about 25,000 people. I have never come to terms with the violence or my total sense of failure as a doctor.
It is such a powerful story. You can expect people to have strong reactions to it because it does challenge the reader to think about disability and illness, life and death. It challenges us to think about the third world and what is important in our lives. It will challenge some religious views. That will be uncomfortable for some people.
I am delighted to hear that it is selling well in Australia (despite calling jandles flip-flops) and I am sure it will do well when it goes global. Good book club material.
Dr Veronica Spooner, GP
I would encourage anyone going to Nepal to read your book. Most travellers only interact fleetingly with the Nepalese. Your [Jane’s] experiences will give others the understanding they do not have time to absorb.
Susan Salmon, letter from Sydney
I came across your book A Glimpse of Eternal Snows in a second hand book store while looking for some reading to while away hours in a cold tent on an upcoming trekking trip I'm leading in Nepal. The problem is that I've just put it down, having finished it between patients in a short GP locum I'm doing before heading off - so much for my planned mountain reading!
In 1996 I first went to Nepal as a volunteer doc with the Himalayan Rescue Association working in Manang on the Annapurna circuit, I had just spent 5 months volunteering at a hospital in Dharamsala, India with the Tibetan Government in exile. Your book took me on a journey remembering that time of trying to help those with so much less than me living on the subcontinent. I'm lucky to have been back many times since then, although I have yet to visit the Terai.
Thank you for writing the book and sharing your story with the world.
Dr Andrew Peacock, Sunshine Beach, QLD, Australia
We have trekked in Nepal several times, most recently to Dolpo, and spent (unintentionally) three days in Nepalgunj. As a tourist it is difficult to get close to the local people and culture. Your book provided many valuable insights. We learned a lot from it. ... also ... your lack of self pity and your courage is an inspiration.
Meredith M, Glasgow
Reading A Glimpse of Eternal Snows you can almost smell the spicy samosas and feel the dusty heat-haze of the Rajapur bazaar in the western terai of Nepal where Jane, a zoologist and GP, spent almost three years living with her husband and two (and then 3) small children. But more beautiful than the vivid descriptions of Nepal at its most primitive is the story of their second son, David. David was born with multiple medical problems and when they realise that endless medical tests and treatment are doing nothing for David's quality of life, Jane and husband Simon make the difficult but courageous decision to take David away from the doctors and return to Nepal where they can enjoy their short time with him and where he is seen simply for what he is: a beautiful, happy baby boy.
Rose posted on Fishpond 25/01/2010
Have you ever lived and/or worked for extended periods in a Third World country? If yes, then you will relate well to this book. It will jog your memory on coping with the inevitable cultural differences we face. Have you ever been trekking in Nepal? If so, then reading this book will bring back many memories of your experiences there. Or have you had the personal experience of bringing into the world a severely physically and mentally disabled baby? Jane, a medical doctor and keen naturalist, in an easy-to-read style and format brings all these elements together to present a very personal account of living in Nepal in trying physical and emotional circumstances. But it’s not a sad tale, although there are heart-wrenching moments, nor is it full of uplifting clichés. It is a simple account of the trials and pleasures associated with living in difficult conditions with the added complexity of caring for a disabled child. Give it a go - you won't be disappointed.
Posted on fishpond