A Fragile Hold

Living with Multiple Sclerosis and Other Uncertainties

Non-Fiction - Memoir
328 Pages
Reviewed on 05/23/2023
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Author Biography

Ruth Cotton is a writer and blogger who lives in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.
Her latest book, A Fragile Hold: Living with Multiple Sclerosis and other Uncertainties, is a memoir which tells how Ruth’s progressive disability and her husband’s illness led her to a new, more mindful way of living. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1997, at a time in her life when she needed all her capacities to care for her children and achieve her life goals.
It was not until Ruth’s retirement that that multiple sclerosis exacted its greatest toll, slowly taking her balance and mobility. She continued blogging about the local history of her suburb, with two popular books emerging from her work: Hidden Hamilton: Uncovering stories of Hamilton, NSW and More Hidden Hamilton: Further stories of people, place and community.
As Ruth’s challenges mounted, she needed all the insights she’d gained when writing her first book, Reinventing Success: Find happiness, satisfaction and balance by managing change in your life. It explores how people cope when their lives change unexpectedly, forging new ways of thinking about what success means to them

Ruth has also drawn on her rural childhood, growing up on a sheep and cattle property in the north-west of New South Wales. There, she learned independence, resilience and how to ride a horse from a young age. In a A Fragile Hold, Ruth reveals with warmth and unflinching honesty intimate scenes of daily life with multiple sclerosis.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Maryann Namayi for Readers' Favorite

A Fragile Hold: Living with Multiple Sclerosis and Other Uncertainties by Ruth Cotton is a poignant autobiography reflecting the author’s life and experiences after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ruth’s narrative follows a distinctive pattern as she acknowledges the profound impact of the virus on both the world and her personal life, making this story suitable for anyone seeking to understand the human condition in times of uncertainty. Ruth’s journey as a writer began after a three-year hiatus, during which she found solace in small tasks that provided transient satisfaction. Inspired by Julia Cameron’s classic work The Artist’s Way, Ruth immersed herself in the concept of creative writing and developed new techniques to rediscover the joy in her craft.

Ruth Cotton’s ability to navigate crises is remarkable, and her poetry references throughout the book are reflective and engaging. They offer comfort and a sense of belonging in the most challenging circumstances. Ruth also discusses her approach to multitasking and how it has influenced her parenting skills through care and focus. Despite facing numerous difficulties, Ruth maintains a winning attitude that she embraces wholeheartedly. A Fragile Hold provides valuable guidance on overcoming obstacles and persevering in adversity. It celebrates strength, endurance, and resilience, and Ruth deserves credit for sharing her deeply personal experiences with such honesty. I highly recommend it to those seeking to develop a new perspective and cultivate a winning mentality. It’s worth a read.

K.C. Finn

A Fragile Hold: Living With Multiple Sclerosis and Other Uncertainties is a work of non-fiction in the medical, social issues, and autobiographical writing subgenres. Penned by Ruth Cotton, it is suitable for readers of all ages. As the title suggests, it takes a frank look at living with MS after the author was diagnosed in 1997. More than twenty years later and facing yet more family challenges through raising kids, retirement, and her husband’s cancer diagnosis, Ruth presents a view of life that stops to admire and appreciate the little things that make every day worth living for.

Ruth Cotton has crafted a gorgeously penned, heartfelt, and thought-provoking memoir that should stop every reader in their tracks, no matter how struggle-filled or struggle-free their lives have been thus far. Ruth has undoubtedly had a lot to contend with. However difficult the subject, her free-flowing, honest narrative style never shies away from explaining it precisely. Yet there’s a ray of hope in every sentence, and a genuine appreciation for the beauty of every moment, even those difficult moments that teach us the most challenging life lessons. Reading this work was like being told key life lessons by a wise friend. Overall, I would not hesitate to recommend A Fragile Hold to fans of memoirs and autobiographies who seek to connect deeply with the author and her subject matter.

Joanne Ang

A Fragile Hold: Living with Multiple Sclerosis and Other Uncertainties by Ruth Cotton is a personal account of her struggles after being diagnosed with MS. Walking out of the neurologist’s office with this news, the fear of losing her ability to walk loomed ominously. The sudden onset of MS disrupted her sense of normality, and nothing prepared her for what was to come. During the pandemic in 2020, her husband’s health started deteriorating when his melanoma worsened. Life was slowly falling apart before her eyes. Would she ever find a way to overcome the battle that was her new life? Could she depend on her husband if she became bedridden? Could her husband depend on her in his struggle with cancer? This book highlights the fragility of life, and that a single event can change everything.

A Fragile Hold by Ruth Cotton is a heart-wrenching memoir that shows the reality of her situation. It follows developments in her life from her diagnosis with MS to her current condition. It shows readers that time does not stand still, but that everything will eventually fall into place. The author also traces the development of her husband’s melanoma. The chaos, confusion, and uncertainty behind everything that was happening was revealed. This book describes how the author and her husband supported each other during the pandemic, despite their illnesses. I loved the detailed writing, with every emotion from intense fear to hope conveyed perfectly. This is a raw memoir that is heartbreaking, and touching, yet hopeful, that will help you appreciate life.