Published: 01/09/2011
ISBN: 9781848766341
Format: Paperback



“Written with an unflinching immediacy and honesty that sometimes takes the breath away”
Anne Charvet, former Editor of Grafton Books

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The Sarah Journals
Surviving tragedy without God
by Ailsa Fabian


“I was urged to set myself a deadline for finishing this Diary. Almost thirty years, after Sarah’s death, I replied that I can’t finish it yet, because I haven’t finished living it.”

These are the diaries of an unbeliever. When 5-year-old Sarah Fabian died suddenly, her mother Ailsa had to cope without the consolation of many survivors, who hope to meet their beloved dead again. The Sarah Journals is based on 40 years of Ailsa’s writings after Sarah’s death, focusing on the challenge to beliefs and the attempt to see a devastating loss in the light of how the world is. It presents emotions with a raw directness often lost in retrospective accounts and contributes to the debate about how to live and face death without religious belief.

Ailsa was inspired by Philip Toynbee’s diaries Part of a Journey and The End of a Journey, C S Lewis’ A Grief Observed and the views of W.H. Auden and Stuart Hampshire on the need to bear witness to experience.

Praise for The Daniel Diary, an insight into the the tragedy of a young child confronting his sister’s death:
“I feel that no-one who begins this book will be able to put it down until the very last word, and at the end no-one who puts it down will ever forget it... It is a book for everyone.”  Alan Sillitoe, Author

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Appreciations of The Sarah Journals


I have never read a book quite like it. Aside from learning much about the process of grief, I was moved by your sheer persistence in wanting to understand Sarah’s death. You are both inside and outside your experience, both the person who experiences the trauma and the writer who observes your changing attitudes and emotional responses. . . You show us everything. Your exasperation, your numbness and sorrow, your frustration and rage, and your struggle to find a way to live, to go on. I liked very much the way in which you turn to literature (this is one of the great strengths of the book in my mind), not uncritically, but weighing up the truth and relevance of every quotation against your own experience… You should be enormously proud of what you have achieved.
Mark McKenna


I would like to thank you so much for your book The Sarah Journals. It is the finest book on loss I have ever read. I am most grateful to you for the writing and also the sharing of such profound and innermost thoughts. You introduced me to poets I have not read and also to powerful ideas which will guide me on my bereavement journey.
Mary McCalman



The Self Publishing Magazine, Spring 2012

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