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Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen Hardcover – May 1, 2007
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About the Author
Jane Hawking, who was Stephen Hawking's wife for over 25 years, is a writer, lecturer, and the author of At Home in France.
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When Jane met Stephen in the early 1960s he was already beginning to suffer the early effects of his illness. Jane married him in 1965 aware that he was predicted to live no more than two years. Improbably, he not only lived but was able to develop his revolutionary theories on black holes, write a best selling book, and travel widely. Much of the credit for his flourishing career must go to Jane's extraordinary devotion and ingenuity, which is even more remarkable when we learn that she earned her own doctorate in Spanish medieval poetry at the same time she kept her husband alive and raised three happy, healthy, children.
Jane's story is an intensely moving and always interesting one. She describes the issues of dealing with a loved one's chronic illness on top of the normal difficulties of keeping a marriage and family going, giving credit where it is due to the many people who assisted her and also assiging blame where it is needed: unresponsive bureaucrats, caregivers who are anything but,and well meaning but clueless busybodies. I could understand why her pain at her marriage's ending was mixed with some feeling of relief, and was glad when both she and Stephen eventually reestablished friendship and some degree of reconciliation. Above all, I was glad that this very strong and good woman has been able to find new love and a new life.
Mrs. Hawking repeats her ex-husband's odd habit of referring to very large numbers as a thousand million, a million million, etc. Apparently, they have never heard of billion, trillion, quadrillion, and so on.
Her unexpected pregnancy comes as a total surprise to the reader, since there is no clue that the couple was having any kind of sex life. I understand the desire to keep some things private; but as his disability worsened, there should have been at least a sentence or two (if not a paragraph) about this element of their relationship.
The "Postlude" provides an update on what happened in the years after the book's first publication. But strangely, not a word about what Stephen Hawking - the subject of the book - thought about it.