As Marsh is at pains to explain, doctors do not know as much as their patients want them to, and can only predict in terms of statistical probabilities. Now that he no longer has patients’ feelings to consider, he is able to be admirably cogent and honest ... [An] intelligent and dynamic man ... Fascinating, unusually revelatory, ultimately conflicted and poignant.
Marsh knows how to set a scene, how to create suspense and how to surprise the reader ... For the most part, Marsh does not pretend to answer metaphysical questions about the mind, or even assume that they can be answered by the likes of us ... Marsh is often funny, sometimes at his own expense ... There’s no false comfort here. Instead, there’s prose that breaks in gentle waves, its undercurrents deep, the surface of an ocean vast enough to put our lives in moral perspective. The narrative takes detours through DIY and dollhouses, hospital décor and Himalayan hikes. Marsh is seated, storytelling, and he is in no hurry.
There is nothing depressing about this book. Marsh's tone is measured, clear, sometimes wryly humorous, as he looks at himself, his foibles, his mistakes and decisions ... Marsh also deftly weaves in other issues — his love of nature, his grandchildren and his unending fascination with the mysteries of the human brain.
A blazingly honest book ... Marsh excels in describing the powerlessness felt by most patients — he knows the medical system inside and out, and from his new perspective as a patient, he grasps the pain and uncertainty of his former patients ... Marsh’s narrative of his journey should be required reading in medical schools, but the reach of Finally is broader and deeper than a first-person account of a doctor’s journey through denial, diagnosis, and acceptance. He examines the underpinnings of science, the limitations of memory, and the nature of consciousness itself. He is an exemplary science writer, breaking down complicated topics with clarity and precision ... Eloquent ... A memorable book.
I was prepared to be bored by the subject and irritated by the author. I was wrong: given its subject – broadly, death and disease – the book is unexpectedly fun, and the author pretty much irresistibly likable. This is a very British book: in the US such a compendium of self-deprecation would doom any literary and elder-statesman ambitions ... Often it seems as if Marsh is afraid to bore the reader and feels compelled to digress from the main themes, which include the manifold anxieties and humiliations that come with being a patient and the moral issues involved in euthanasia. His discussion of end-of-life care and assisted dying is the best essay I have read on the subject. The constant jumping from topic to topic, from personal narrative to gee-whiz popular science, makes the book more light-hearted, but it remains an odd composite: clearly the product of an unusual and disarmingly hyperactive mind.
A vividly wry and honest ... Slender, elegant ... And Finally is very much a memoir of enlightenment; the humbling, late in life, of a man of great skill and status ... In the biggest sense, though, this book articulates beautifully the emotional contradictions in growing old and ill.
Poignant and thought-provoking ... Marsh’s honesty is disarming ... It is these sorts of insights — exploring his fallibility, his shortcomings and even his complicity in an uncaring system — that make Marsh’s writing so powerful and that allow him to transcend the usual pathography. Even so, some of his observations about medicine feel as though they shouldn’t be as much of a revelation to him as they seem to be ... His book is an attempt to understand the questions, if not to come up with answers. As in his earlier works, Marsh’s exploration is intimate, insightful, witty and deeply moving ... With this book he has left readers of the future a work to savor and learn from.
Philosophical and scientific conundrums about brain surgery permeate the book ... And Finally sounds increasingly ominous about his prostate cancer as the memoir works its way towards a resolution; Marsh is plain-speaking without being dispassionate, almost as if volunteering his own medical history as a case study ... Henry Marsh may have retired from medicine but let’s hope he keeps producing books as good as this one, which enthral as well as teach.
And Finally offers a tender, at times apologetic account of a doctor-turned-patient whose chronic disease and awareness of the inevitability of death are compellingly navigated: first denial and anxiety, then acceptance and coping, ultimately gratitude for every moment gifted.
Immersive ... Marsh interweaves tender moments from his personal life, including storytimes with his granddaughters, with discussions of gene editing and other medical topics. Readers will find much to appreciate in this pensive probe into what it means to face mortality.
Compelling ... The author offers a fascinating account of his often disagreeable treatment but remains entranced by the wonders of the natural world, science, and love for his family. The conclusion finds him still alive and, readers will hope, writing another book ... Another masterful memoir from Marsh.