This novel is the fictionalized account of author Thomas Moran's real-life experience as a patient with disseminated chicken pox. During his five months in hospital, much of that time on a ventilator, Moran experienced "coma visions" and near death which he retells here through his alter ego, James Blatchely, a man who struggles to remain emotionally alive in spite of the virus's physical assault. Blatchely does this by observing, befriending, and then fantasizing a life for his two Irish nurses--Brigit who, he discovers, uses drugs to endure the pain she witnesses daily in Intensive Care, and Nuala, with whom he falls in love.

Through the depiction of Blatchely's erratic, inching descent toward death, readers gain visceral insight into a patient's encounter with critical illness--but the real heroes of this book are the nurses. We observe them through Blatchely's eyes, and they are the force that enables him to survive, if not in body, at least in mind. This beautifully written novel creates a world in which both patients and caregivers are fully human, bound together by their shared experience of the patient's illness and by the life the imagination enjoys when the body cannot.


Although the protagonist is bed-bound, unable to speak except occasionally via a letter board, and often in coma, the story unfolds seamlessly and with remarkable depth. I particularly applaud the novelist's ability to portray nursing as a real and multi-faceted profession.

Blatchely's nurses demonstrate clinical skill, intuitive perception, quiet nurturing, and great acts of caring. They also get drunk, weep over lost love, and react physically to the traumas playing out around them.

Those who read this book might gain insight into a patient's tedious daily battle with illness as well as to a patient's perception of nursing. This author suggests that important moments in the battle against disease often occur within the patient's mind or between a patient and attendant when they are unobserved--then he exposes those moments with grace and authenticity.


Thomas Moran is also the author of the novel, The Man in the Box. Prior to beginning his career as a novelist, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. Paperback edition of The World I Made for Her : 1999.



Place Published

New York

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