- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (September 17, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0732271169
- ISBN-13: 978-0732271169
- ASIN: 0380732874
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,062,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Limbo: A Memoir Paperback – September 17, 2002
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A. Manette Ansay, the author of such well-received novels as Midnight Champagne and River Angel, didn't set out to be a writer, but a concert pianist. In this affecting memoir, she tells what happened to change her course.
In early adulthood, having spent years practicing at the keyboard, Ansay was felled by a mysterious illness that robbed her of motor control--and, soon, her ability to walk. Ailments of unknown origin weren't uncommon among her fellow students, she writes, for musical training is far more punishing physically than nonmusicians might imagine, and moments of respite are rare--reason enough to take ill. Even so, this malady stumped her doctors and drove her into a doubting self-examination through which she concluded that her illness was a test of faith devised by a stern but not unloving God; "just because you can't find the reason doesn't mean it isn't there." The loss of her physical strength and musical calling were tough tests, she writes, but life would toss tougher ones her way over the years, and to gauge by this memoir she has met them well. Ansay touches on matters of courage, faith, and bewilderment before arriving at a nicely optimistic conclusion. For, she writes, despite it all, despite having been confined to a wheelchair for nearly half her life, the good has far outweighed the bad, a happy instance of "that precarious balance that drives us to value what we have, to cling to the world as we do."
Gracefully written and full of small epiphanies, Limbo will prove a pleasure for Ansay's many loyal readers, and for those new to her work. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In this gorgeous memoir, Ansay (Vinegar Hill; Midnight Champagne) recounts how, at the age of 19, an undiagnosed muscle disorder cut short her promising career as a concert pianist. Describing memory as "the switch on the wall. The pull chain on the lamp," Ansay beautifully illuminates selected details of her Catholic childhood, her struggles with religious faith and her growing realization that her illness is a permanent one. In her rural community, where "illness and shame still go hand-in-hand," Ansay's family is unsympathetic to undefined injuries. Head colds call for "hot whiskey punch with lemon and sugar," and toothaches are cured by chewing on the other side of one's mouth. In deference to her musical ambitions and religious upbringing, Ansay tries to transcend her pain, suffering through piano lessons, recitals and conservatory training. But she never lets this memoir devolve into one of those stories about "crippled children with heroic personalities." In fact, she pokes fun at such narratives: "Thanks to the power of faith... the family rallies around the child, discovering in the process that instead of a tragedy, this child is the greatest blessing of their lives." Instead, Ansay reveals the painful indignity of having a debilitating physical condition that is immediately visible: "It's right there, out in the open, where anyone might choose to poke at it, probe it, satisfy their grim curiosity." (Oct. 16)Forecast: Ansay's novel Vinegar Hill was an Oprah-anointed bestseller; that and a generous marketing campaign including advertising in the New York Times Book Review, as well as a 15-city NPR campaign will give this memoir well-deserved prominence.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
One of the great loves of Ann's life was music. She took piano lessons for years and practiced for hours each day. She became so proficient that she was eventually admitted to the prestigious Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore. Tragically, her promising musical career was cut short when physical symptoms that she had been battling for years suddenly grew worse. She suffered from intense pain in her arms and legs, and the doctors she consulted could not agree on a diagnosis. She tried cortisone shots, anti-inflammatory drugs, splints, braces, surgery, hypnosis, and many other treatments. Nothing cured her, although there were times when she could walk under her own power for short distances. However, because of the pain in her arms, Ann knew that she had to give up her dream of becoming a concert pianist. After much soul searching, she eventually turned to writing.
"Limbo" is an episodic memoir that goes back and forth in time. The shifts are sometimes too sudden and they give the book a choppy feel. In addition, it is a bit confusing when Ansay uses the present tense to describe events long past. However, her descriptive writing is vivid, lyrical, and evocative.Read more ›
Ansay falls into the latter group (and I want to be clear here,...I'm not saying one viewpoint is better than the other, only pointing out the facts).
She is quite honest about her unwillingness (or inability) to make that choice for herself. She is faced with a mysterious illness and no guarantee of recovery. She may be in a wheelchair all her life. She is young.
THe result? A book about how she comes to grips with all of this WITHOUT insisting on finding "meaning" or a sense that she was destined for this or that there is some deeper significance or spiritual pattern in her illness.
If you know someone in a similar circumstance, someone for whom religion is not an easy comfort and who wonders how others have coped, this would be a perfect choice. It is also worth reading by just about anyone who wonders "What if?" or "How would I handle this?". Honest, detailed and unflinching.
So when I saw that she had written her memoir I was anxious to read about this young writer that I so admire. Now that I have read it I have even MORE for which to admire her. The descriptions of her phisical dibilitation are heart breaking...but at the same time her spirit is uplifting; her talent is daunting.
I especially appreciate her description of losing her Catholic faith. I went through the same gamut of emotions - panic and peace - when I lost mine.
Everything she writes strikes true. I will be the first in line for her next work.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've read Ansay's memoir at least three times. I was disappointed that the kindle edition didn't include what I read in the paperback edition's back pages – that Ansay found a... Read morePublished 22 months ago by jeanmaguire
A. Manette Ansay is my husband's second cousin twice removed. A lot of what she says is probably true! Read morePublished on April 19, 2014 by Winifred S Ansay
This is a moving memoir about what happens when illness steals the most important thing in your life. Ansay spend her youth planning to become a concert pianist. Read morePublished on April 21, 2013 by LH422
I found the book late. I just read it and though I found it tight, and well written, I didn't enjoy the journey. Read morePublished on August 14, 2012 by aniowachick
and I put down after only a few pages before. This time I started it I read the whole thing. The last part of the book had the deepest meeting for me. Read morePublished on December 18, 2007 by Barb F.
"The abyss opens beneath our feet, and we leap it,
*not* because we are particularly brave, but simply
because we must. We land in a whole new country. Read more
i very much enjoyed reading this book.ansay is a beautiful writer although there are a few times where it seems she is trying too hard,and it doesn't flow as well. Read morePublished on March 17, 2002 by diane bluegreen