Book Review – The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

The Diving-Bell and the Butterflythe-diving-bell-the-butterfly
Written By: Jean-Dominique Bauby
Published By: Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2008, First Edition by Harper Perennial, 144 pages, paperback
ISBN 978-0307389251

The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly grants you access into a lonely, locked-in world; this poignant memoir is a stark reminder of how infinitely precious life is.”

Product Description – From
“In December 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby, the 43-year-old editor of French Elle, suffered a massive stroke that left him permanently paralyzed, a victim of “locked in syndrome.” Once known for his gregariousness and wit, Bauby now finds himself imprisoned in an inert body, able to communicate only by blinking his left eye. The miracle is that in doing so he was able to compose this stunningly eloquent memoir.
In a voice that is by turns wistful and mischievous, angry and sardonic, Bauby gives us a celebration of the liberating power of consciousness: what it is like to spend a day with his children, to imagine lying in bed beside his wife, to conjure up the flavor of delectable meals even as he is fed through at tube. Most of all, this triumphant book lets us witness an indomitable spirit and share in the pure joy of its own survival.”

The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly is such an insightful and inspirational book. This is one mans story; his triumph of spirit and his courage despite all odds. That a man in his prime, powerful and respected, could be brought so low by a rare condition known as locked-in syndrome; it is almost to horrible to contemplate. This story is a quick read and has a distinct, flowing plot. I was really fascinated by Jean’s indomitable spirit and his sardonic wit. There were many times when I smiled at Jean’s comments and thoughts, delighting in his zest for life while in a near vegetative state. The beautiful writing was so vivid and detailed that I could almost see through his one, good eye. His absolute determination, to share his story with the world leaves us forever in his debt. Though I was saddened by his condition and ultimately his death, I really enjoyed his story.
I highly recommend this book.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (9 out of 10 Diamonds) – Loved it!

Link to Information about the Author:
Link to the Publisher’s Website:

A special thanks to HarperCollins for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy


8 thoughts on “Book Review – The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

  1. I’ve the book around here somewhere… When I find it I’ll have to get it in the correct pile to read! Thanks for reminding me :)

  2. It’s a TRUE horror story (according to your review – what could be scarier than to be hit by this kind of stroke) and I always wonder about the human capacity for hope and perserverance, how some people surmount the most amazing difficulties and how others don’t. When my father had a stroke (he was quite a leader and innovator, spoke 12 languages, was an immigrant here from Ukraine) he lost a lot of his abilities – and his authorities – and once when the rehabilitation hospital had given him too much breathing medication he started talking in what they thought was gibberish and I knew to be Ukrainian! The psychiatrist, who tested him on that day when he was so ill, wanted him committed to a state home, and I talked with him for an hour to plead his case (quietly and diplomatically, to be re-tested), and on another day the psychiatrist didn’t believe him to be “stupid – which is to say you need active helpers in these situations! Later my father positioned his wheel chair near the nurses’ desk (where everything was happening) and when I wanted to purchase him an instrument to help him write he said NO and proceeded to try to write his own signature for days until he could! He recovered entirely – I know some people can’t because of the nature of their stroke – even though one entire side was paralyzed, partially because he wanted to get well and because of his strong will. I saw guys in their 20’s in the same place with much lesser strokes and difficulties who just got depressed and lay there doing nothing, and they DIDN’T recover! I hope this never happens to me (hereditary factor) and any book that inspires all of us to do more is particularly crucial!

  3. Hi Kathy,

    I hope you get a chance to read it. He is a great writer and I’m truly amazed by how upbeat he remained, though everything.
    I’d love to hear what you think of it, once you’ve read it.

  4. Hi Christina,

    Thank you so much, for sharing the story of what your father went through. How terrible!! It sounds like you were a great support person for him and a strong voice when he needed it most! What craziness to try to confine him to a mental ward because they couldn’t understand the language he was speaking…that’s just plain scary and unjust!
    I too, hope that you are never similarly afflicted when you’re older.
    I’m so happy to hear that your father made a full recovery. As you said not everyone is so lucky, just like Jean in this story. It’s just so sad!

  5. Wonderful review Bobbie! I just received the book from a giveway over at Katrina’s Stone Soup. I am really looking forward to reading it. I loved the movie!

  6. Hi Teddy,

    Thank you so much, I’m glad you enjoyed the review. :-) I’m sure you’ll enjoy the book too! I am looking forward to watching the movie when I can get my hands on a copy; thanks for letting me know that you loved it, that’s a great recommendation for me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s