In 2008, Marion Coutts’ husband, the art critic Tom Lubbock, was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and told that he had not more than two years to live. The tumour was located in the area of the brain controlling speech and language, and would eventually rob him of the ability to speak. Tom was 53 when he died, leaving Marion and their son Eugene, just two years old, alone.
The Iceberg is a stunning record of Lubbock’s illness and how the family or rather she dealt with it. With painstaking descriptions of hospital visits, getting the ongoing bad news, making the decisions when Lubbock is unable to this memoir can only be described as a staggering account of Lubbock’s death. She says to him “I am sending you off”
Their son Eugene, whilst being incredibly young at two, does have a sense that something is not right and her accounts of chats with him during Tom’s illness are mind blowing. There is a real calmness about her writing style; which might make the reader believe she is in control when you know it is anything but. There are intimate passages when as the reader you are pulled into their marriage and get a sense of what their life was like before
The writing is lyrical, textured, perfectly paced; the sentences short so that we feel Coutts’s moments of panic, her quickened heartbeat and this memoir is part diary and part of the healing process at the same time.