Sunday, 2 August 2009

Harriet Sergeant's review

Charlotte Fielder wrote this book for all parents who go for that first scan, or at the birth, find their new baby is missing a limb. It is a shattering experience. This excellent book offers them support, reassurance, moving and funny stories. It also offers something even more important. It offers the experience of Charlotte herself. For Charlotte was born without a left hand.

The first time I met Charlotte, it was at a Christmas party. She was entrancing a circle of people – mostly high ranking police officers and politicians. She was doing this by being entirely herself. She is funny, original and a very hardworking government employee. Everyone wanted to hear what she had to say. As she talked, she waved both her one beautifully manicured and beringed hand together with Fred, the name she gives her stump, with equal animation and confidence. Fred is never tucked away. He is out there as much a part of Charlotte as her kindness, style and humour.

This confidence appears to come to Charlotte as easily as breathing. In fact it was hard won as her determination to write this book shows. She was bullied at school and left at 16. She knows the humiliation of being a bright, attractive but one handed teenager. When she talks, you listen. But you do not despair. For Charlotte’s unique personality permeates every page. The ultimate message of this book to the new parent is one of hope. They will learn many things but the most important is that nothing need stop their child growing up to be like Charlotte – an amazing human being.

Harriet Sergeant is author of five widely aclaimed Think Tank reports on immigration, the NHS, the Police and the Care System. She has also written three books on South Africa, Shanghai and Japan. She has written for numerous newspapers and magazines in Britain and abroad and frequently appears on radio and television.

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