Publisher: Fentum Press (Oct 2018 US)
Radiation Diaries tells of a month of radiotherapy treatment undergone when Janet Todd was president of a Cambridge college and while her father, in his 100th year, was approaching death, with skin cancer. The day-by-day treatment brought into her mind flashes from her early life in Bermuda and Ceylon with her father, in Ghana and Puerto Rico, as a young woman, along with stored poems from childhood. Written each morning and night, it tells of the terror she induced in herself with insomniac nights on the web, searching out percentages of recoveries and death, of alternative treatments. Her reactions will be common to others who spend time in hospital-land. Todd’s experiences and writings will inspire and help others with these illness and treatments, and those who care for them.
Unflinching in detail, Radiation Diaries will strike chords for anyone who has suffered a life-threatening illness, but the book’s message is positive, for the author lives well and has a new career. Now 75, she completed her term as President of a Cambridge college, while ill, published further books and became a grandmother. Now she maintains her academic career with speeches and lectures, has become a novelist, and travelled to launch her fiction in US and the UK, while still recovering. Surrounded by family and friends, she continues her peripatetic existence, albeit more by creative work from her imagination and via computer than by frequent exotic travels to the places she has lived and taught.
“Janet Todd turns her renowned literary intelligence to her experience as a cancer patient. Original, forceful and often funny; there is no other cancer diary like it. The book’s clear-eyed detail is a reminder that indignity, pain and fear do not diminish memory, imagination or the self.” – Terri Apter, psychologist and author of Passing Judgment: Praise and Blame in Everyday Life
Reviews, Interviews and Appearances for Radiation Diaries
“Janet Todd’s pain-filled interweaving of life and literature is a good book written against the odds – it is frank, wry and unexpectedly heartening.” Hilary Mantel
“Beautifully written, viscerally honest, horribly funny.” Miriam Margolyes
“Janet Todd turns her renowned literary intelligence to her experience as a cancer patient. Original, forceful and often funny, there is no other cancer diary like it. The book’s clear-eyed detail is a reminder that indignity, pain and fear do not diminish memory, imagination or the self.” Terri Apter, psychologist and author of Passing Judgment: Praise and Blame in Everyday Life.
“Candid, courageous and often horribly amusing. I winced and laughed in equal measure.” Salley Vickers, author of Miss Garnet’s Angel and The Librarian
“I read it avidly, unable to stop. I love the voice, especially the tension between restraint and candour in its brevities and yet endearingly warm and honest. It’s an original voice and utterly convincing in its blend of confession, quirkiness, humour, intimacy. It’s nothing short of a literary masterpiece, inventing a genre. A delight too is the embeddedness of books in the character of a lifelong reader; it is fascinating to learn of Todd’s fascinating variegated past. How gallant (like the verbal gallop against mortality at the close of The Waves).” Lyndall Gordon, author of Virginia Woolf: A Writer’s Life; Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and her Family’s Feuds and Outsiders: Five Women Who Changed the World
- Radiation Diaries by Janet Todd January 15, 2019 by Lara Lillibridge 19th January 2019
- Times Literary Review #467 – Dreaded Diagnosis 17th September 2018
- Times Higher Education – Cancer and the academy: a college president’s story 2nd August 2018
- BookBlasts® | Top 10 Reads for Independent Minds | June 2018 1st June 2018
Interviews and appearances
- BBC Radio London – Jo Good 10th September 2018
- Woman’s Hour 25 July 2018 Radiation Diaries 25th July 2018
- Selina Mackenzie TRE Talk Radio 19th July 2018
- Cambridge 105 – Interview with Janet Todd by Leigh Chambers 13th June 2018