My enormous thanks to Emma Finnigan for a surprise copy of I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice that arrived unexpectedly.
I Found My Tribe is published by Vintage and is available for purchase through the links here.
I Found My Tribe
Ruth’s tribe are her lively children and her filmmaker husband, Simon, who has Motor Neurone Disease and can only communicate with his eyes. Ruth’s other ‘tribe’ are the friends who gather at the cove in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, and regularly throw themselves into the freezing cold water, just for kicks.
‘The Tragic Wives’ Swimming Club’, as they jokingly call themselves, meet to cope with the extreme challenges life puts in their way, not to mention the monster waves rolling over the horizon.
An invocation to all of us to love as hard as we can, and live even harder, I Found My Tribe is an urgent and uplifting letter to a husband, family, friends, the natural world and the brightness of life.
My Review of I Found My Tribe
With her husband Simon dying from Motor Neurone Disease, Ruth has to find a way of coping – through her tribe.
I Found My Tribe is an intense, emotional and beautiful memoir that resonates with every single one of us who has experienced any kind of grief. Ruth Fitzmaurice has the astounding ability to convey through her writing what the rest of us can only feel but never articulate effectively. I ended the book with eyes and nose streaming and my chest heaving with sobs as the effect of reading I Found My Tribe was to release so many pent up feelings of grief I have been suppressing over the last couple of years. It was both cathartic and healing and I am incredibly grateful for the experience.
However, I Found My Tribe has so much to offer those who haven’t experienced the same losses in their lives. Firstly, the quality of Ruth Fitzmaurice’s writing is wonderful. At times it is intensely sad, at others funny but always incredibly human and frequently beautifully poetic so that I could place myself alongside the author and experience her life with her. The variety of sentence structure, the use of repetition, the expletives, the first person approach, the rhetorical questions – all the wonderful literary devices Ruth Fitzmaurice employs without them ever feeling contrived – all add up a truly magnificent book.
The passages dedicated to the sea and Ruth’s wild-swimming are fabulous. I felt all manner of emotions from anxiety that The Tragic Wives Swimming Club might be injured, to jealousy that I wasn’t participating with them, to relief and vicarious exultation at the end of each swim. The descriptions of the beach and sea made me want to head straight to the coast. The way I Found My Tribe is structured is very much like the way the sea behaves. Sometimes the writing is calm and reflective, at others it crashes across the page with anger and rage. Each short chapter felt like the tide coming and going to me.
Although there are no ‘characters’ per se because this is a memoir and these are real people, I felt each person was so well depicted that I knew them intimately. Reading I Found My Tribe has given me the utmost respect for Ruth Fitzmaurice. How she managed to cope with five children, various animals and a totally incapacitated husband is beyond comprehension. She is a warrior in her own right and I feel privileged to have read about her and Simon.
I know I haven’t done justice to I Found My Tribe. I read it in one sitting because I simply could not tear myself away. It is a soul-stirring, heart-breaking and poignant book and I defy anyone not to be moved by it.
About Ruth Fitzmaurice
Ruth Fitzmaurice was a radio researcher and producer when she married her husband, Simon, in 2004 and had three children.
In 2008, Simon was diagnosed with ALS and given three years to live. Simon went into respiratory failure in 2010 and was accidentally placed on a ventilator during an emergency procedure.
He decided against medical advice to keep the ventilator; Ruth and Simon went on to have twins in 2012. She lives in Greystones, Ireland, with her five children, two dogs and two cats.