Axis Mundi: In Pursuit of Healing through Place

Review of  Iona Dreaming

Book by Clare Cooper Marcus

Review by Rose Booker

Clare Cooper Marcus’s memoir, Iona Dreaming, is an inspirational account of personal survival and hope, in which Marcus shares her battle with cancer. This deepens into a contemplation of the events in her life and her physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

Recently retired with adult children, Marcus struggles with more than her cancer. The sudden stillness in her once fast-pace life, forces memories from her past into the forefront. Iona becomes a place were she confront these memories and learns to let go.

This work encourages the reader to search out for that one place on earth that allows one to heal. It doesn’t matter if there is nothing more than an inkling that pushes you toward a particular place. As Marcus wrote, “I cannot say why this particular place nurtures me as no other … Yet I know this is my place of healing. That is enough.”

Her work, however, does tend to lean on the pastoral. In this I mean that through demonstrating, first hand, the healing power of place, Marcus is taking part of a literary tradition as old as Middle English. This does not distract from the power of her message. On the contrary it adds to it through placing her work among some of the greatest writers in English history. I only mention it as a warning to those who sneer at anything that has the faintest hint of sentiment – this book may not be for you, at least not until you too find yourself searching for your place of healing.

I recommend this book to those in need of healing, to those with a deep yearning for a place in this big world (an axis mundi), and to those who love memoirs that let you into the author’s life the way a loving friend lets you into their home.

This review will soon appear on Writer Advice’s website.

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