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Jane Hawking, divorced wife of the 20th Century's most brilliant astrophysicist and mother of his three children, has written an extraordinary memoir that relates the story of a marriage born of optimism, despite Stephen's motor neuron disease, and ending with collapse, provoked by his love affair with a nurse.The author tells of the difficulties of dealing with Stephen's Jane Hawking, divorced wife of the 20th Century's most brilliant astrophysicist and mother of his three children, has written an extraordinary memoir that relates the story of a marriage born of optimism, despite Stephen's motor neuron disease, and ending with collapse, provoked by his love affair with a nurse.The author tells of the difficulties of dealing with Stephen's incredible fame and the attention he needed as a wheelchairbound father and husband, and of the trials dealing with three small children. Her writing is candid, poignant, and often humorous. She discusses the effect of power and money on their lives and the strange and terrible juxtaposition of her husband's debilitating disease. This biography is of interest to readers of Hawking's Brief History of Time, scientists, those with crippling diseases, women, and the general reading public.


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Jane Hawking, divorced wife of the 20th Century's most brilliant astrophysicist and mother of his three children, has written an extraordinary memoir that relates the story of a marriage born of optimism, despite Stephen's motor neuron disease, and ending with collapse, provoked by his love affair with a nurse.The author tells of the difficulties of dealing with Stephen's Jane Hawking, divorced wife of the 20th Century's most brilliant astrophysicist and mother of his three children, has written an extraordinary memoir that relates the story of a marriage born of optimism, despite Stephen's motor neuron disease, and ending with collapse, provoked by his love affair with a nurse.The author tells of the difficulties of dealing with Stephen's incredible fame and the attention he needed as a wheelchairbound father and husband, and of the trials dealing with three small children. Her writing is candid, poignant, and often humorous. She discusses the effect of power and money on their lives and the strange and terrible juxtaposition of her husband's debilitating disease. This biography is of interest to readers of Hawking's Brief History of Time, scientists, those with crippling diseases, women, and the general reading public.

30 review for Music to Move the Stars: A Life with Stephen Hawking

  1. 4 out of 5

    Beth Bonini

    In some cases, it is best to see the film first -- and this is one of them. I was extremely moved by The Theory of Everything, and particularly impressed by the central performances of Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and Jane Hawking (Felicity Jones). In the film, Jane Hawking has a steady strength and a calm presence. Even when she becomes increasingly ground down by the demands of Stephen's physical deterioration, there is the sense that she is the strong centre of their marriage and family - In some cases, it is best to see the film first -- and this is one of them. I was extremely moved by The Theory of Everything, and particularly impressed by the central performances of Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) and Jane Hawking (Felicity Jones). In the film, Jane Hawking has a steady strength and a calm presence. Even when she becomes increasingly ground down by the demands of Stephen's physical deterioration, there is the sense that she is the strong centre of their marriage and family -- and a hugely important factor in his professional success. To read this book is to realise, rather crushingly, how very simplified and sugar-coated the cinematic version is compared to what transpired in real life. I had huge sympathy for Jane Hawking and her myriad difficulties, but this is a painful book to read in many senses. It also feels very slanted; perhaps that is inevitable in a memoir, but sometimes Jane Hawking's perceptions and perspective seem filtered through such a strong prism of depression, guilt and self-doubt that I felt that I really wanted some counterbalancing perspectives. Were her in-laws really so insensitive and lacking in understanding? Was Stephen so clueless about the physical/emotional toll on her? The book begins with a description of a young Jane who is just discovering herself through travels to Spain and a university education studying modern languages. She depicts herself as a typically upper-middle class British girl of her era, albeit of the bluestocking strain. (Both she and Stephen have families with long relationships with Oxford and Cambridge, and there is much talk of music and theatre.) She plays tennis; goes on a secretarial course; learns, falteringly, to drive. Their courtship is much more on-and-off than the film implies, and is interrupted at various points while both of them travel. They had barely started dating when Stephen was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, and one never quite gets the sense of why she wanted to persist with such a fledgling relationship at that point. Conversely, she conveys that getting married (and later, having children) gives Stephen the confidence and security to really pursue his own intellectual and professional dreams. I don't feel that I really learned all that much about Stephen Hawking in this book. Although she occasionally makes reference to his charm, wit and charisma, what mostly comes across is his intellectual arrogance, his disdain for her religious beliefs and his utter self-absorption with physics and his career. Frankly, he sounds like a selfish monster. Probably the genius, the physics, or the degenerative disease would have been difficult enough, just on their own -- but taken together they are a triple whammy. Even worse, she describes a Stephen who will not talk about difficulties, his own or those that they share. The physical and emotional burdens that she feels until Jonathan comes into her life (more on that) seem unbearable, and she often describes her total exhaustion. Add to that her own insecurity -- about being reduced to a domestic drudge, about not fulfilling her own intellectual or professional abilities -- and this book is a long series of laments. I was compelled by it, and yet it could be extremely tiresome. There is way too much detail about inessentials, and not nearly enough insight. She goes to great lengths to describe the innocence of her relationship with Jonathan --who becomes a friend and support in the household for many years, and later her husband when she and Stephen divorce. I believed her, and yet she protested way too much (which leads to inevitable doubts). She seemed to feel SO guilty for not being able to parent single-handedly, plus take care of an invalid AND his glittering career, plus ask nothing for herself . . . and yet, WHY? She is constantly trying to convince the reader of her worthiness, which is not at all necessary, whilst never quite believing it herself. Emotionally draining stuff.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mazola1

    This is Jane Hawking's story of her 25 year marriage to Stephen Hawking, who is arguably the most famous physicist since Newton. Stephen Hawking's improbable and inspiring story is well known -- how he made significant scientific breakthroughs and achieved great fame and celebrity despite being the victim of a debilitating and progressive neurological disease (motor-neuron or Lou Gehrig's disease) which eventually took away almost all of his ability to do anything for himself but to think. He ma This is Jane Hawking's story of her 25 year marriage to Stephen Hawking, who is arguably the most famous physicist since Newton. Stephen Hawking's improbable and inspiring story is well known -- how he made significant scientific breakthroughs and achieved great fame and celebrity despite being the victim of a debilitating and progressive neurological disease (motor-neuron or Lou Gehrig's disease) which eventually took away almost all of his ability to do anything for himself but to think. He may be the only scientist alive whose name is known to millions of people, and has achieved a celebrity status usually reserved for rock stars and accomplished athletes. Stephen Hawking's book A Brief History of Time sold 25 million copies, an astounding and truly incredible fact considering the arcane nature of its subject matter and the fact that it is not dumbed down physics, but is actually quite hard to read and even harder to understand. It has been said that never in history has a book been bought by so many people who did not read it. That is probably a testament to the enduring mark Stephen has made on people by the force of his determination and unbreakable spirit in the face of great adversity. Also well known, and the subject of much gossip and speculation, is the story of how Stephen divorced Jane after 25 years of marriage to live with and then marry one of his nurses. Jane Hawking's book is circumspect and honest. Those looking for salacious details will be disappointed. But those looking for an insightful examination of what makes marriages and relationships succeed (and fail) will be richly rewarded. Jane Hawking writes that her story "would be quite ordinary, quite common to most people's lives, were it not for two factors: motor-neuron disease and geniuis." In other words, but for the fact that she was married to an iconic figure who was both a towering intellect and a devastatingly disabled person. Both of these factors did put unusual stresses on the marriage. While Jane describes these unusual difficulties, this also is an ordinary story, dealing with many of the common-place problems and joys that people encounter as they try to forge a life together. Some of these problems and joys, like shared interests and clashing beliefs, a spouse's annoying and endearing characteritstics, helpful relatives and toxic ones, are most likely found in virtually all relationships. Others are also common, if not pervasive. For instance, the stresses caused when one partner overshadows the other in accomplishment and attention. Added to this was the demanding nature of Stephen's illness, which consumed much of Jane's time and energies for many of the years of their marriage, and the difficulty of trying to raise three children while caring for a disabled husband. Jane's struggle to find her own career and to feel like something more than an appendage to a famous spouse mirrors the struggle that many couples grapple with -- how to be a unit or team while still being individuals. Bittersweet in places, sometimes downright sad, nonethess, at bottom it is inspiring, for it is the story of not one person of indomitable will and soaring spirit who survived great difficulties, but two.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kitty

    Very disappointing and too long. I wanted to learn more what it was like living with a genius with a serious progressive illness. She was overwhelmed most of the time trying to be there for her demanding husband and the needs of the children, but it was more a complaint than trying to convey the situation. I wanted to know more about day to day life and not so many details of her houses, renovations, gardens, friends etc.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I really wanted to enjoy this book, but it just wasn't what I was hoping for. I honestly am not sure what I was wanting, but I guess it was something more learned and/or intimate than this. This felt like it was hundreds of pages of Jane trying to justify her life by writing about every last friend that they had over their shared past however-many years of marriage and all the daily activities she did to tend house, care for children, do grocery shopping etc. Maybe I wanted to know more about th I really wanted to enjoy this book, but it just wasn't what I was hoping for. I honestly am not sure what I was wanting, but I guess it was something more learned and/or intimate than this. This felt like it was hundreds of pages of Jane trying to justify her life by writing about every last friend that they had over their shared past however-many years of marriage and all the daily activities she did to tend house, care for children, do grocery shopping etc. Maybe I wanted to know more about their relationship, her feelings and thoughts on the work he was doing (wasn't she at all involved in the discussion or theorizing?), interesting stories that would add nuance and color to an incredible scientific personality. But this book ended up being so pedestrian and mundane. I left the book feeling like it was a way for her to cash in on her relationship without having any viable content to share. She didn't take us on any journey of any exciting or interesting path. Instead, I just got to learn about where they lived, who they saw practically every single day, and other dull details of their lives.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    A long overdue book finally read! Jane talks about Stephen's difficult personality n challenges with loving care, compassion n protective aura which makes the books all the more beautiful and authentic, its removed from any kind of vendetta, she even talks sympathetically about the Palestinian plight at the hand of Israeli soldiers in a brief passage while recounting the horror of holocaust n the irony of situation. Over all it gives u a peep into various human being's minds from the perspective A long overdue book finally read! Jane talks about Stephen's difficult personality n challenges with loving care, compassion n protective aura which makes the books all the more beautiful and authentic, its removed from any kind of vendetta, she even talks sympathetically about the Palestinian plight at the hand of Israeli soldiers in a brief passage while recounting the horror of holocaust n the irony of situation. Over all it gives u a peep into various human being's minds from the perspective of a wife a mother a lover and above all a female human being moved by art and literature, struggling to maintain her individual identity while being overshadowed by Stephen n his demands on her time n person. All the while denouncing the lack of compassion , cruelty of fame, money and world's bitter attitude towards the disabled and the less lucky creatures including trees :) Just glad that i saw the movie before I read it, otherwise the movie distorts so many facts n timelines that it would've been hard to enjoy it after reading the book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This the kind of book which you either love or hate. Certainly, if you watched the movie, you'll love it, even if I haven't done yet. All the romantics aspects would be some way exacerbated. If you are a fan of memoir/biography books you will find a mixture of everything in this book, such as: their personal lives (yes!), mixed with some hints of physics (of course) and history of science (in a biography?). In summary, even the idea of the author seems brilliant, she looses the main plot by trying This the kind of book which you either love or hate. Certainly, if you watched the movie, you'll love it, even if I haven't done yet. All the romantics aspects would be some way exacerbated. If you are a fan of memoir/biography books you will find a mixture of everything in this book, such as: their personal lives (yes!), mixed with some hints of physics (of course) and history of science (in a biography?). In summary, even the idea of the author seems brilliant, she looses the main plot by trying to explain everything to us, poor readers. If you really want to know more about Stephen Hawking, please read his book A Brief History of Time. Update: Daily Mail review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Shaikha Alahmad

    I've been trying to finish this book since high school but I ended up dropping it every time; it was a bit long for me at that time. But after watching the movie, I was determined to finish it and I found it absolutely overwhelming and compelling! I did enjoy the movie more since the book had a lot of unnecessary details. Nevertheless, this book is incredible and deserves to be read at least once in a lifetime! 👏🏼 I've been trying to finish this book since high school but I ended up dropping it every time; it was a bit long for me at that time. But after watching the movie, I was determined to finish it and I found it absolutely overwhelming and compelling! I did enjoy the movie more since the book had a lot of unnecessary details. Nevertheless, this book is incredible and deserves to be read at least once in a lifetime! 👏🏼

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jemiah Jefferson

    (As written for Google Books page on this edition) Compelling and unforgettable, if not exactly enjoyable or fun reading, Jane Hawking provides a richly detailed personal memoir of her own life, starring not herself in the leading role, but rather her then-husband, the world-famous scientist Stephen Hawking. It is a horror tale in the truest sense - not only in discussing the brutality of ALS, or motor neurone disease, and its ravages on Stephen Hawkings's body, but the staggering and shocking em (As written for Google Books page on this edition) Compelling and unforgettable, if not exactly enjoyable or fun reading, Jane Hawking provides a richly detailed personal memoir of her own life, starring not herself in the leading role, but rather her then-husband, the world-famous scientist Stephen Hawking. It is a horror tale in the truest sense - not only in discussing the brutality of ALS, or motor neurone disease, and its ravages on Stephen Hawkings's body, but the staggering and shocking emotional cruelty experienced by his infinitely patient, tough, adoring wife and family at his hands and those of his immediate family. If anyone spoke to me the way that Stephen's mother spoke to Jane, I'd be in jail because I'd have to try to choke the life from them. And yet Jane is no doormat, not really - she is merely beaten down by physical and emotional exhaustion and blinkered by her love of this incredibly vexing, brilliant, selfish, egotistical man. To discuss in greater detail would be to deprive the reader her own chance to personally experience the story; I don't imagine everyone will have the same opinion of the quality of the writing, the maddening aspects of the genius personality, of Jane's right to do and feel as she did and does. But as an example of the story behind the story, of how fame and renown can be used as a dropcloth to conceal the most hideous aspects of humanity, of the systematic erasing of a woman's self-esteem and worth by decades of cruelty and contempt - this is a top notch work of biography and a valuable piece of a feminist canon. Honestly, what would you do? Can you truly say that you'd have done better? I still look up to and adore Stephen Hawking, but now, also loathe him completely in a way I usually associate with people I know personally. He's a human to me now. Well done.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    "Just as we thought we had escaped the worst of the winter's ills, the spring of 1976 lay in wait with a series of cruel tricks which made of it an obstacle course akin to a snakes-and-ladders board, though with many more snakes than ladders and with the dice weighted to land on the snakes." "...it was obvious to everyone, except to Stephen and his subversive minions, that I would not be well enough to travel." [During her second wedding] "There were the odd distracting moments -- such as the horr "Just as we thought we had escaped the worst of the winter's ills, the spring of 1976 lay in wait with a series of cruel tricks which made of it an obstacle course akin to a snakes-and-ladders board, though with many more snakes than ladders and with the dice weighted to land on the snakes." "...it was obvious to everyone, except to Stephen and his subversive minions, that I would not be well enough to travel." [During her second wedding] "There were the odd distracting moments -- such as the horrible scratchy pen which turned my signature on the registers into an untidy scrawl, bringing back humiliating memories of a failed art exam in calligraphy at St. Albans High School." This book was incredible in that I have never seen, read, or experienced anything as negative in my life. Every minute was an opportunity to complain and to beg for sympathy. I was in awe by 20%, and then I just had to keep reading to see if the entire book could really continue at that rate. It did! Amazing. A situation will be described as terrible, awful, and traumatic, only to be referred to as "not bad" in comparison to what horror was next for her! I think she would have garnered the sympathy craved if she had described life more evenly, as yes certainly there were plenty of struggles. But she was also financially secure (buying and remodeling several houses with help from parents/in-laws) and traveling the world. So many things (the chicken pox! ohmygosh the chicken pox!!) were blown out of proportion that it diluted the actual challenges.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This book wasn't what I was expecting. After seeing the movie Theory of Everything, I wanted to read the book to get more insight on the relationship between Stephen and Jane Hawking as well as the struggles with motor neuron disease. I was expecting a narrative, and instead got what at first seemed like a laundry list of their everyday tasks for twenty-five years. The beginning was painful to get through because of the indiscriminate need to include even the most minute details of their lives. This book wasn't what I was expecting. After seeing the movie Theory of Everything, I wanted to read the book to get more insight on the relationship between Stephen and Jane Hawking as well as the struggles with motor neuron disease. I was expecting a narrative, and instead got what at first seemed like a laundry list of their everyday tasks for twenty-five years. The beginning was painful to get through because of the indiscriminate need to include even the most minute details of their lives. Everything was laid out chronologically as the book was compiled of a million small stories that didn't create any kind of narrative arc, only served to give a complete account as to what they ate for breakfast and which flights they took to what countries. She also delved pretty deep into the science of Stephen's book as well as her own studies on Medieval Spanish poetry, which might be interesting to some but was dry to me. Her editor did, in deed, fail her in this respect. However - I think the book IS important for the reasons Jane describes in the epilogue. To show what it is like living with/taking care of someone who has motor neuron disease, especially someone who is a famous scientist. Many people insist that this reads like a huge complaint by Jane, but I think she has been so pushed back into the corner that she more than deserves to tell her side of the story (and the caretakers side of the story). Yes, she does defend herself very loudly and yes, she does complain about the stresses of their lives very often. But I don't blame her. Her attitude and will to do whatever it took was inspiring, and by the end of the book I was moved to tears. Read this if you have a lot of time and patience, and it will be worth it if you stick with it to the end. It really is an amazing story, and while it wasn't the passionate drama I was expecting, I think it was beneficial. I was also surprised at how different the movie portrayed the second half of their lives from what Jane describes. I think that even with the movie she was done a great injustice. She is still struggling with the idea that Stephen is an idol and she is the woman who couldn't give him everything he needed. I have nothing but respect for her.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Janie Cai

    Since it took me over two months to finish this book, I felt compelled to write a review. I was (and still am) strongly debating whether this book deserves three stars or four. As I remember Eileen once saying in a previous review, a three suggests mediocrity. However, a four suggests some form of brilliance to me. To rate this book a four would be comparing it to books like I Know Why The Caged Bird Sing and Brave New World (and other books that I've rated a four), and this book simply doesn't Since it took me over two months to finish this book, I felt compelled to write a review. I was (and still am) strongly debating whether this book deserves three stars or four. As I remember Eileen once saying in a previous review, a three suggests mediocrity. However, a four suggests some form of brilliance to me. To rate this book a four would be comparing it to books like I Know Why The Caged Bird Sing and Brave New World (and other books that I've rated a four), and this book simply doesn't fit into that category. At times, she frustrated me, and at other times, I truly sympathized (and sometimes emphasized) with her. I am not criticizing her actual life or her relationship with Stephen but rather her writing style. It was monotonous and repetitive at times, and while her sentence fluency and vocabulary is actually quite amazing (rightly so, considering that she studied romance languages), her story just seemed to be a blur of pessimism and unnecessary detail. I'm not really sure what I wanted or expected out of it; perhaps I wanted a little more of Stephen's personality or a little more optimism or some more insight from her present self. Simply put, I often grew bored of her reiterations. Despite this, I do have an even greater respect for Jane Hawking. To survive and prosper in such emotional turmoil is frankly amazing. To this day, she is a friend of Stephen and champions for the rights of disabled people. Regardless of her writing style, Travelling to Infinity does give an enormous amount of insight into what it's like to have ALS and what it's like to be a caregiver for someone with ALS.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stu Schreiber

    Actually read the book after I had seen the movie. Always interesting to see what they include from the book. Enjoyed both but think I enjoyed the movie best.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    1.5 stars This book has been described as optimistic and inspiring, but it seemed to me that the writer was very negative, complaining and demanding sympathy. There were many great challenges in her life and the reader could be more sympathetic if she wasn't complaining about everyday stresses that most everyone experiences. She knew Stephen's medical condition when they married, but blames her time caring for him on delaying her work on her PHD in Spanish literature. But she describes endless 1.5 stars This book has been described as optimistic and inspiring, but it seemed to me that the writer was very negative, complaining and demanding sympathy. There were many great challenges in her life and the reader could be more sympathetic if she wasn't complaining about everyday stresses that most everyone experiences. She knew Stephen's medical condition when they married, but blames her time caring for him on delaying her work on her PHD in Spanish literature. But she describes endless concerts, parties, dinners, picnics, ballet shows, travel, renovating a number of their homes and making gardens. She complains about her in-laws as not being helpful enough although they did help, and so did her relatives, friends, students, government agencies and the University. Not many people as caregivers for severely disabled relatives have such wealth or resources. She was happy when she moves her "platonic" lover into the home with Stephen and the children. Then goes on trips to Europe with this man and attends many musical events with him. She is annoyed when Stephen receives medals and honours, and mentions that only twice she received gifts at these events. She is furious when Steven's sister asks her if her third child is Steven's or the live in boyfriend. She lacks self-awareness and seems to feel entitled and resentful of her husband's fame. After 25 years marriage Stephen announces he is divorcing her to marry one of his nurses. She is very upset as she seems to want both men. After Stephen leaves, she marries this man, astounded that Stephen didn't approve of the arrangement and felt neglected.. At the close of the book Stephen is divorced again and the three of them and her children are spending happy times together. I know Jane Hawking didn't appear to come across this way but much of her writing I found just plain irritating.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stu Schreiber

    A compelling story written by Jane Hawking the wife of Stephen Hawking for 25 years. Didn't know what to expect since I, like most, have been fascinated by the life and challenges of Stephen Hawking and his rock star image. Relationships, in general are complicated, and when you add Stephen's motor-neuron disorder and genius, Jane and Stephen's relationship becomes even more complicated. Despite his brilliance, Stephen is human. Jane writes of his bravery, inspiration and arrogance. I felt mysel A compelling story written by Jane Hawking the wife of Stephen Hawking for 25 years. Didn't know what to expect since I, like most, have been fascinated by the life and challenges of Stephen Hawking and his rock star image. Relationships, in general are complicated, and when you add Stephen's motor-neuron disorder and genius, Jane and Stephen's relationship becomes even more complicated. Despite his brilliance, Stephen is human. Jane writes of his bravery, inspiration and arrogance. I felt myself in awe of Stephen's mental capacity but not liking him as a person. Interestingly, its the same way I felt after reading about Steve Jobs. Jane stays in their relationship for the love of their family and deserved better than watching Stephen leave her for one of his nurses. We are often reminded how it is often impossible to know what its like to live in someone else's shoes. Stephen Hawking is on the top of that list and I found myself more than willing to excuse any and all of his flaws. Stephen Hawking is one of the truly fascinating men of the last 100 years. It's hard to imagine what it must be like to be Stephen Hawking. That we can never understand. Finally, this is an incredible story but I found something missing that keeps me from calling it a great book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hether Belusky

    I had no idea when deciding to read this book that I had RSVP'd to a 487 page pity party. I had no idea when deciding to read this book that I had RSVP'd to a 487 page pity party.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    This is a book about Stephen Hawking's courtship and marriage to Jane Hawking, and their family life. Jane married Stephen when he was newly diagnosed with motor neuron disease and given about two years to live. That was over 40 years ago and he's still alive. She was terribly burdened with his care, on top of taking care of three children, without much money. She has genuine, legitimate complaints about his treating her like a slave? So why is she so irritating? I think it's because she has so This is a book about Stephen Hawking's courtship and marriage to Jane Hawking, and their family life. Jane married Stephen when he was newly diagnosed with motor neuron disease and given about two years to live. That was over 40 years ago and he's still alive. She was terribly burdened with his care, on top of taking care of three children, without much money. She has genuine, legitimate complaints about his treating her like a slave? So why is she so irritating? I think it's because she has so little self-awareness. She never delves into why she might have decided to marry a man with a serious, life-threatening disease, never a hint that it might have seemed glamorous or noble to her. She does seem to have been smitten with him -- his feelings for her are much less apparent. He needs her but he seems as often irritated with her as loving. It is striking how old-fashioned her attitudes are. It sometimes feels like an early 20th century book. She views her role almost entirely as mother and wife. Yes, she does manage to complete a PhD, but the time is stolen from an endless round of teas, birthday parties, and other forms of entertainment. Really? She has to do all of this? It seems that she takes pleasure in this role but also complains about it. There is hardly a mention of any real communication between Jane and Stephen, except in their joint commitment to some political causes. Finally she meets John, who loves and values her. Because she's committed to Stephen and the children, she absolutely won't leave him, and the new man becomes part of the household. apparently with Stephen's consent. It's hinted but not made explicit that Stephen is no longer able to have sexual relations with her -- although she did become pregnant by him a few years earlier. That episode is recounted by her saying that she wasn't always careful about birth control. What?! They're having sex? He's not just her fourth child? She is furious at his sister asking if the child is John's, although it seems a reasonable question, if intrusive. The bizarre thing is that Jane is baffled to learn after a few years that Stephen apparently wasn't happy with the new arrangement. It is this kind of obtuseness that makes her so annoying. But as a picture of their home life, and what it's like to be married to a "great man," it's fairly compelling. And she does get her revenge on the evil nurse who manipulated him into leaving Jane and marrying him, and we do learn that apparently THEY were having sex.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    **3.5 - 4 stars** This was an absolutely fascinating read – Of course I have followed Stephen Hawking’s story just like everybody else, he always struck me as quite an enigmatic character but apart from his public persona I did not know a great deal. And I knew nothing of Jane Hawking, his first wife, who in this memoir tells it as it was for her and it is at turns emotional, funny and very engaging. It is a love story, it is also the story of two people coming together and making a life, a life t **3.5 - 4 stars** This was an absolutely fascinating read – Of course I have followed Stephen Hawking’s story just like everybody else, he always struck me as quite an enigmatic character but apart from his public persona I did not know a great deal. And I knew nothing of Jane Hawking, his first wife, who in this memoir tells it as it was for her and it is at turns emotional, funny and very engaging. It is a love story, it is also the story of two people coming together and making a life, a life that is difficult and expected to be short lived. Jane Hawking does not pull punches with her narrative, but shows her inner strength in the face of adversity, both the good and the bad things that happen are told with an open honesty and a tendency to be blunt that is very appealing. Of course this is a very personal story – as such I found myself wondering how much of it was coloured by what came later – I can’t say that Stephen Hawking came across as terribly likeable overall – although of course very brave, absolutely determined and often inspiring. Added to that was a sense of the arrogance that extraordinarily intelligent people can have, his disregard for Jane’s belief system and his impatience with other people is sitting right there, sometimes making me shake my head. Jane herself is not always likeable, which I guess shows that she wrote honestly even about herself, but I admired her grit and total and absolute love for her family that kept her going through some difficult times. The science was intriguing, the lifespan of the relationship and marriage entirely compelling, the slow disintigration of health is sad yet strangely empowering as Stephen fights on regardless, so overall a terrific read if a little long winded and dry upon occasion, for the most part it was entirely bewitching. I have not seen the movie as yet – The Theory of Everything, as I understand it, takes the more romantic aspects of the story told here and creates a rather wonderful film. I shall look forward to seeing it, however I am very pleased that I read this first as I believe right here is where you will find the most truth, even if skewed by being told by only one side of the equation. Definitely recommended for fans of Non Fiction and anyone with an interest in a real life lived. Happy Reading Folks!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Megan Quirk

    It took me quite awhile to read this book, but I think that's just a mixture of being busy & not wanting it to end! I became extremely attached to Jane & her family & my heart ached at how beautifully honest she is about both the triumphs & struggles of being married to Stephen. I was struck & inspired by her intelligence & drive, & I can honestly say I was sad when it was over because it was like saying goodbye to a friend. It took me quite awhile to read this book, but I think that's just a mixture of being busy & not wanting it to end! I became extremely attached to Jane & her family & my heart ached at how beautifully honest she is about both the triumphs & struggles of being married to Stephen. I was struck & inspired by her intelligence & drive, & I can honestly say I was sad when it was over because it was like saying goodbye to a friend.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aleishas Reviews

    3.5 Stars

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dawnie Temple

    I have never read something so in depth before. To hear the struggles the whole family have had to go through was inspiring,inspiring to see that at the end of it all they both could stay friends,i wish sometimes my Marriage had gone that way. But then again being controlled is not what a woman wants in life. Really want to see the Movie now to see how they can put a Brilliant Read into a Motion Picture..

  21. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    A wonderfully written and poignant tale of Jane's marriage to Stephen Hawking. I loved watching A Theory of Everything and wanted to read this to understand more about these two fantasic people and their stories. A wonderfully written and poignant tale of Jane's marriage to Stephen Hawking. I loved watching A Theory of Everything and wanted to read this to understand more about these two fantasic people and their stories.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jo Weston

    Rather long, perhaps, but I found it fascinating.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Laura Leilani

    Went into this book expecting some bitter bashing of her ex husband and was happily disappointed. Jane does a great job of telling her side of things in a fair manner. I also expected her to play the martyr card but she never does. She is human. She does her best. Sometimes she fails. Her writing was top notch, much better than I was expecting. Reading this book after reading Stephens autobiography was the right move. I highly suggest that for others. Jane and Stephen both talk about the same ev Went into this book expecting some bitter bashing of her ex husband and was happily disappointed. Jane does a great job of telling her side of things in a fair manner. I also expected her to play the martyr card but she never does. She is human. She does her best. Sometimes she fails. Her writing was top notch, much better than I was expecting. Reading this book after reading Stephens autobiography was the right move. I highly suggest that for others. Jane and Stephen both talk about the same events and people, but with differing perspectives. Also, reading Stephen's short version was a good overview to reading Jane's longer, much more detailed version. Honestly, I was frustrated at first, by the lack of description of her feelings. I know English people don't trumpet their emotions about like Americans, but I still expected some hints as to why Jane fell in love in the first place. That is my only criticism, and I actually ended up respecting Jane's holding back her private emotions by the end of the book. It made her tale more heartfelt than reading some overly sentimental gushing. A great read and realistic peek into their lives.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Some parts of this were incredibly interesting and well written which is why I've given this book an overall 3 star rating. However, I found this book had little to do with her life with Stephen, in fact i feel this book only complains about how she had to look after someone who was EXTREMELY DISABLED. There's barely anything about his character or who he was as a person. The way she describes him is only when she found him 'unbareable' or when he was being 'difficult'. Basically this book was w Some parts of this were incredibly interesting and well written which is why I've given this book an overall 3 star rating. However, I found this book had little to do with her life with Stephen, in fact i feel this book only complains about how she had to look after someone who was EXTREMELY DISABLED. There's barely anything about his character or who he was as a person. The way she describes him is only when she found him 'unbareable' or when he was being 'difficult'. Basically this book was written so she could get some sympathy because her like was a big, sad mess where she barely had any time to herself and was constantly overlooked. Poor her, no one would pay her any attention :( /s.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    To start with, I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars because there were some parts throughout the story in which I sort of lost track of what was going on and for me that brough down my rating because even though it was a great book and I throughly enjoyed it, some of the physics parts to it was difficult to understand and continually follow what was being said. The writing style was good, nice, easy to read. The chapters however, some were long as some were short. The longer chapters sort of kept To start with, I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars because there were some parts throughout the story in which I sort of lost track of what was going on and for me that brough down my rating because even though it was a great book and I throughly enjoyed it, some of the physics parts to it was difficult to understand and continually follow what was being said. The writing style was good, nice, easy to read. The chapters however, some were long as some were short. The longer chapters sort of kept me wanting to put the book down at points in the story only because it was a really long chapter and some parts were confusing. That made me sad as I was excited to read it, I understand that of course it is a book to do with Stephen and Janes life and the journey that was there life and they generally had to be stuff about physics but the thing that got me upset was when they started on a topic about physics to me it just seemed to go on and on for quite a long period of time taking up the majority of the chapter and I got bored with it in some ways. Overall, the story certainly made me apprieciate the life I am living. It also made me feel as if I was right there next to them going through their life with them, which is definitely one thing that I love about books that do that. Finally, It made me feel all the emotions, happy, sad, angry, fustrated. It was a terrific book. :)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Lee

    Jane Hawking is an excellent writer. She uses words and metaphors very well and paints some lovely pictures of the English countryside and Cambridge, in particular. This book, however, is l-o-n-g. Too long. I understand that a life dedicated to a debilitated genius and three children has been extremely challenging but reading about every luncheon, party, family vacation, child illness, and attendance at functions held in her husband's honour became tedious. Parts of this book read like that annu Jane Hawking is an excellent writer. She uses words and metaphors very well and paints some lovely pictures of the English countryside and Cambridge, in particular. This book, however, is l-o-n-g. Too long. I understand that a life dedicated to a debilitated genius and three children has been extremely challenging but reading about every luncheon, party, family vacation, child illness, and attendance at functions held in her husband's honour became tedious. Parts of this book read like that annual letter you get at Christmas from your cousin abroad crowing about all the of their accomplishments and strife during the past year. Mrs Hawking skirts around the most interesting aspects of her relationship with her famous husband and doesn't answer a number of questions that are on the tips of everyone's tongues. In short, I guess we need more of the juicy bits! The book should have been 25% shorter. However, this is a woman I admire and she certainly could have a career as writer.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Heather Browning

    I've always been impressed by Stephen Hawking; the strength it must take to do the type of work he does, while managing his disease. What I'd never thought of was the amount of strength it must take to be the other people in his life; those whose lives are taken up in providing support and care. Jane Hawking is fairly extraordinary in the life she managed to build for herself and her family while managing all these factors. She's completely honest about the level of challenge they faced, and the I've always been impressed by Stephen Hawking; the strength it must take to do the type of work he does, while managing his disease. What I'd never thought of was the amount of strength it must take to be the other people in his life; those whose lives are taken up in providing support and care. Jane Hawking is fairly extraordinary in the life she managed to build for herself and her family while managing all these factors. She's completely honest about the level of challenge they faced, and the sense of despair at trying to surmount all the obstacles is obvious throughout. Makes me a feel a little inadequate for complaining about my own difficulties sometimes, but also more aware of how much you need an extended support network to help.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Doreen

    I let out a long sigh of relief when I finished this book because it is so long and tedious. I was shocked to learn that it is “the abridged version of the original memoir” (405) which ran to over 600 pages! I guess I should be grateful my book club chose this version! This memoir by Jane Hawking is the story of her life with the world-famous physicist, Stephen Hawking. She describes their first encounters, their courtship, and their 25-year marriage. The focus is on her struggles to cope with he I let out a long sigh of relief when I finished this book because it is so long and tedious. I was shocked to learn that it is “the abridged version of the original memoir” (405) which ran to over 600 pages! I guess I should be grateful my book club chose this version! This memoir by Jane Hawking is the story of her life with the world-famous physicist, Stephen Hawking. She describes their first encounters, their courtship, and their 25-year marriage. The focus is on her struggles to cope with her husband’s increasing dependence as his body degenerated while simultaneously meeting the needs of their three children. In a postlude, she briefly describes their lives after their divorce. The book needs a thorough editing. There is too much discussion of irrelevant material. For example, does the reader really need to know that Jane “found many similarities between the kharjas and the cantigas de amigo, which were possibly the result of Mozarabic migrations northward” (200) or that Castilian villancicos are full of medieval iconography symbolizing the multiplicity of the aspects of love (236)? Why is a two-page biography of Newton included (331-332)? In a memoir, I don’t expect to read that “In the thirteenth century, Alfonso the Wise of Castile expanded the role of Toledo as a major centre for translation” (103). After a while, the impression is that the author is trying to convince us of her erudition. Then there’s the needless repetition. How often must we read about the difficulties she experienced trying to write her thesis, the problems she had with Stephen’s nurses, the fatigue she suffered, the thin veneer of normality they tried to maintain, or the innocence of her relationship with Jonathan? With the latter, a quote from Hamlet came to mind: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” At times the book reads like a series of lists: we get lists of friends, lists of places where she and Stephen travelled for conferences, lists of social functions she hosted, lists of concerts she attended, etc. Undoubtedly, Jane faced great challenges and deserves recognition for her role in Stephen’s life. By caring for him and the family as she did, she aided his advancement in his pursuits. By just describing what she did, she would earn the reader’s respect and sympathy. The problem is that instead of letting her story speak for itself, she whines and complains. At times the book seems one long complaint. Everything has to come back to her. She is upset because she didn’t receive gifts when Stephen received honours. She wants sympathy because she had the shingles. She becomes so agitated when people question her about Tim’s father after she has brought another man into the household? This constant tone of “Woe is me” makes her seem selfish and petty and draws attention away from her unquestionable accomplishments. What the reader is not given in the book is a real understanding of the relationship between Stephen and Jane. Listing her responsibilities and Stephen’s accomplishments does little to show how the two of them were together. Stephen does not come across very positively: he was intellectually arrogant; he was utterly absorbed in physics to the detriment of his family; he needed to be the centre of attention; he was dismissive of Jane’s interests; and he was uncommunicative. As I’ve already stated, Jane comes across as whiny. At the beginning, she describes herself as someone “who managed to see the funny side of situations” and was “fairly shy, yet not averse to expressing . . . opinions” (6), yet her sense of humour seems non-existent and one of her problems is her self-effacement. She also shows little self-awareness because she implies that she is a victim, that this life just happened to her, whereas she made a choice to marry Stephen knowing his diagnosis and the prognosis. I’m left with a question: did she marry Stephen because she loved him? Theirs does not seem to be a great love affair. From the beginning, their relationship seems detached, certainly not passionate. She seems to stay with Stephen out of a sense of obligation, more than love. The book jacket mentions the author’s “candour” but I found her often evasive. For instance, when mentioning Stephen’s nurse, who became his second wife, Jane says, “Probably with her he had found someone tougher than me with whom he could again somehow have a physical relationship” (378). So Jane and Stephen were no longer intimate? Later, she says, “Flames of vituperation, hatred, desire for revenge leapt at me from all sides, scorching me to the quick with accusations” (379). All sides? On the topic of editing, I may come across as petty, but I must point out the careless proofreading of the book: “they behaved with caution and towed the party line” (149) and “Irritatingly their gossip was as pervasive as the smoke from their cigarettes, I and found myself compelled to listen” (170) and “Both her age and her sex enabled her to avoid the some of the pressures” (226) and “In conclusion the author looked forward to the time when mankind would able to ‘know the mind of God’” (289). And how about sentences with seven prepositional phrases: “At Cern Stephen would be working on the implications for the direction of the arrow of time of quantum theory and of the observations from the particle accelerator (286-287). And what editor would allow the phrase “the elderly Indian squaw” (91)?! The reason I tend to avoid memoirs is that they are inevitably one-sided. I prefer to get several perspectives since the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle of each person’s version of events. An article I read stated, “Jane decided it was time to answer her critics with a final definitive description of the marriage, purging the bitterness occasioned by the 'horrendously painful' divorce that tainted the first book” (http://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/...). This begs the question: what bias taints this book? The film The Theory of Everything was apparently based on this memoir, but the film is not faithful to the book. Is the book faithful to what really happened? Anyone looking for real insight into the relationship between Stephen Hawking and his first wife will not find it here. The book is a long and tiresome read; consequently, its effect is not to give the author the respect and recognition she craves and deserves. Please check out my reader's blog (https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fern Adams

    Mixed views on this one. I was interested to hear about Stephen Hawking, his work and family but was surprised at how this was written. Jane very much comes across as a victim who tries to explain why it was so hard for her and everything she gave up and what a difficult life it was. This is very much a one sided account and I felt there was a lot of information potentially missing. I was most surprised at how ableist it came across at times in relation to both physical disability and autism too Mixed views on this one. I was interested to hear about Stephen Hawking, his work and family but was surprised at how this was written. Jane very much comes across as a victim who tries to explain why it was so hard for her and everything she gave up and what a difficult life it was. This is very much a one sided account and I felt there was a lot of information potentially missing. I was most surprised at how ableist it came across at times in relation to both physical disability and autism too. Interesting but left me feeling annoyed at times that Jane didn’t see herself as a person who also had an active role too that could also cause consequences.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Janet Hutchinson

    Interesting perspective on a genius's life, from someone who was very well equipped to observe and comment. Jane Hawking dissects her life with Stephen, and as I read it, I was struck by what she gave up to support him. She was no mean slouch, intellectually, herself, and yet, could really only support him, instead of shining her self. Engaging read. Interesting perspective on a genius's life, from someone who was very well equipped to observe and comment. Jane Hawking dissects her life with Stephen, and as I read it, I was struck by what she gave up to support him. She was no mean slouch, intellectually, herself, and yet, could really only support him, instead of shining her self. Engaging read.

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