The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion

The Year of Magical Thinking

By Joan Didion

  • Release Date: 2005-10-04
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4
From 555 Ratings


NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion that explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage—and a life, in good times and bad—that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.

Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later—the night before New Year’s Eve—the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma.

This powerful book is Didion’ s attempt to make sense of the “weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness ... about marriage and children and memory ... about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.


  • Beautiful

    By KevinHNewton
    Great insight on the grieving process. As someone who lost his mom less than a year ago I found myself connecting with almost everything she wrote.
  • A classic

    By andrewj1999
    This book, with its captivating language and gripping storyline, delivers eloquently the tragedy that is the loss of a loved one. Didion, a remarkable writer, uses this book as a way to cope with the loss of her husband. Small in page length, yet intense it subject matter. Absolutely brilliant.
  • A truly magical read

    This is the first Didion book I have read and I look forward to reading more. While I knew the outcome for both John and Q (I had seen the documentary), I was riveted by her account of them. For me, her matter-of-fact writing style underscored the impossible task of describing such an immense loss and its aftermath. Much like parenthood, you have no idea what the death of a loved one is like until you experience it for yourself. Didion does a remarkable and brave job of bringing that experience to life for her reader.
  • Insightful but not enough storytelling...

    By Vikki40
    While there were nuggets of wisdom that resonated with me and that I will take with me, this was not a story with a clear begging and end. It seemed more of a fact telling timeline devoid of the emotion that was so obviously left out. More of a clinical approach to death. I did not feel the warmth I should have felt at the loss of someone so near and dear to her life. Maybe that was her therapy....
  • Very relatable

    By Long legion
    A book that in less professional hands could have been tiresome. However this is written by a wonderfully gifted author that knows how to relate her very personal feelings to the reader without being maudlin. Brought back a lot of my own feelings from when my mother died. Easily read and easily relatable