Rebecca de Saintonge Publishes Memoir

October 28, 2015 | Other News, TLC Talent

When Rebecca de Saintonge’s husband Jack developed an incurable degenerative brain disease she faced the dual challenge of trying to keep the integrity of their relationship intact while also avoiding her own destruction within their diminishing world.  She survived by taking a lover.

Through extracts from Rebecca’s journal, One Yellow Door: A Memoir of Love and Loss, Faith and Infidelity explores the conflicting emotions and complex ethics of infidelity in marriage where one partner is severely disabled.  It is about a re-thinking of traditional faith and the discovery of a new, deeper spirituality, and ultimately about the indestructibility of love.

Supported by an Arts Council grant, Rebecca embarked on the TLC Chapter and Verse mentorship programme to complete an initial draft of this book. We are so pleased that One Yellow Door will be published this month by Darton, Longman & Todd. The book has already enjoyed coverage in The Guardian, and we look forward to seeing Rebecca interviewed on the Lorraine Kelly Show in November. This is a brave and difficult book, described by Rebecca’s TLC mentor, Sara Maitland, as “[a] small book about all the truly big things: love, loss, tragedy, joy, purpose, pain and laughter.” We very much look forward to reading it in its final, published format.

Talking about her journey through the TLC mentoring scheme, Rebecca said:Bex18

What most people need from a mentor – well I did anyway – is someone who combines empathy, with a keen critical ability and the personality to give you a sharp kick up the rear end when your self confidence is withering.  I had just such a mentor in Sara Maitland, so intelligently chosen for me by TLC.  In fact, without the encouragement of TLC and an ACE grant, I know this book would never have been written.

It took a year or two, and there were many moments when I despaired.  This sort of intimate story isn’t easy to articulate, but Sara had just published A Book of Silence, also written up from her journals, and so she understood exactly how hard it was to translate notes written in the intensity of the moment into a readable narrative. 

The experience of having someone by your side, as it were, while you struggled alone at your desk, forcing out words, fluctuating between elation and doubt – which I think we all do  – was so reassuring.  And when I got utterly stuck with the structure, there was someone of vast experience who would gently steer me onto the right path, without ever making the decisions for me.   I can’t find words to thank, Sara, TLC and the Arts Council, for helping this work come to fruition.

An extract from the book:

My dear Jack – before I met you my life seemed like a train pulling a trail of empty carriages, and then there you were, and suddenly most of them were full – with people and noise and laughter, with faith and vision and your extraordinary, electric vitality….

So now, my love, I know the worst. Your brain is shrinking inside your skull.  You are going to disintegrate very slowly, mind and body.  You will feel our loving in rags and your God absent and I will hold you to my breast and cradle the shell of your skull, for you will have gone, my lover, my dear one.  But not quite….

I know that I cannot bear the pain of Jack’s situation any longer, unrelieved.  To survive and provide him with the buoyant atmosphere he wants, I have to have hopes and horizons beyond him. These horizons have included another person.”

Buy One Yellow Door book here