Quilt on Fire: The Messy Magic of Midlife

'Funny, honest, liberating and wise - Christie Watson has written the equivalent of a laugh-until-you-cry conversation with a best friend --' Jess Kidd

There is something raw in the fault lines, something wilder and more mysterious. There is beauty in the falling apart, a less polished, more honest version of expression.

In her early twenties, Christie Watson was convinced she'd found her soulmate, in a glowing flash of light that turned out to be a tealight setting her quilt on fire. Twenty years later, her bed is burning once again... as she wakes in a perimenopausal sweat, night after night.This is the story of her journey through midlife: of the joy of letting go and the pain of the morning after, of the unstoppable power of female friendship and the struggle to raise teenagers as a single parent. It lays bare the exhilaration, agony, wonder and fears of being a middle-aged woman with a wild heart, a changing body and a new set of challenges. And as her world takes on a different shape, there's something else she starts to feel: the hot flush of possibility.

 

About

Christie Watson is a writer and Professor of Medical and Health Humanities at UEA.

Her first book, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, won the Costa First Novel Award and along with her second novel, Where Women Are Kings, was widely translated and achieved international critical acclaim. The Language of Kindness, published in 2018, was a number one Sunday Times bestseller and Book of the Year in the Evening Standard, Guardian, i, New Statesman, The Sunday Times and The Times. It has been translated into 23 languages and adapted for theatre. In 2020, during the first peak of the pandemic, Christie published The Courage to Care and briefly returned to clinical work. Christie was shocked not only by the changing world, but her changing body, as her perimenopause took hold. Quilt on Fire is the funny, honest and liberating account of her midlife journey.

Photo credit: Rebecca Reid 

Events

There are currently no public events scheduled. Future events will appear here once confirmed.

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Medical Humanities: What is it and why does it matter?

The Royal Institution of Great Britain, London

Thursday 26th May 2022

The UEA Lasdun Lecture - back in person after two years.

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Books

Christie Watson is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction. She has published two novels: including the Costa First Novel Award winning Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away, and two non-fiction books: The Courage to Care and Number One Bestseller The Language of Kindness. Her fifth book, Quilt on Fire, is available to pre-order now. Click each title for more information. 

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Quilt on Fire: The Messy Magic of Midlife

'Funny, honest, liberating and wise - Christie Watson has written the equivalent of a laugh-until-you-cry conversation with a best friend --' Jess Kidd

There is something raw in the fault lines, something wilder and more mysterious. There is beauty in the falling apart, a less polished, more honest version of expression.

In her early twenties, Christie Watson was convinced she'd found her soulmate, in a glowing flash of light that turned out to be a tealight setting her quilt on fire. Twenty years later, her bed is burning once again... as she wakes in a perimenopausal sweat, night after night.This is the story of her journey through midlife: of the joy of letting go and the pain of the morning after, of the unstoppable power of female friendship and the struggle to raise teenagers as a single parent. It lays bare the exhilaration, agony, wonder and fears of being a middle-aged woman with a wild heart, a changing body and a new set of challenges. And as her world takes on a different shape, there's something else she starts to feel: the hot flush of possibility.

 

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The Courage to Care

Nurses have never been more important. We benefit from their expertise in our hospitals and beyond: in our schools, on our streets, in prisons, hospices and care homes. When we feel most alone, nurses remind us that we are not alone at all.

In The Courage to Care bestselling author Christie Watson reveals the remarkable extent of nurses' work. A community mental-health nurse choreographs support for a man suffering from severe depression. A teen with stab wounds is treated by the critical-care team; his school nurse visits and he drops the bravado. A pregnant woman loses frightening amounts of blood following a car accident; it is a military nurse who synchronises the emergency department into immaculate order and focus.

Christie makes a further discovery: that, time and again, it is patients and their families - including her own - who show exceptional strength in the most challenging times. We are all deserving of compassion, and as we share in each other's suffering, Christie Watson shows us how we can find courage too. The courage to care.

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The Language of Kindness

Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astonishing account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness.

We watch Christie as she nurses a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, we stand by her side during her patient’s agonising heart-lung transplant, and we hold our breath as she washes the hair of a child fatally injured in a fire, attempting to remove the toxic smell of smoke before the grieving family arrive.

In our most extreme moments, when life is lived most intensely, Christie is with us. She is a guide, mentor and friend. And in these dark days of division and isolationism, she encourages us all to stretch out a hand.

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Tiny Sunbirds Far Away

WINNER OF THE COSTA FIRST NOVEL AWARD 2011.

'Everything changed after Mama found Father lying on top of another woman.'

Blessing and her brother Ezikiel adore their larger-than-life father, their glamorous mother and their comfortable life in Lagos. But all that changes when their father leaves them for another woman.

Their mother is fired from her job at the Royal Imperial Hotel - only married women can work there - and soon they have to quit their air-conditioned apartment to go and live with their grandparents in a compound in the Niger Delta. Adapting to life with a poor countryside family is a shock beyond measure after their privileged upbringing in Lagos.

Told in Blessing's own beguiling voice, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away shows how some families can survive almost anything. At times hilarious, always poignant, occasionally tragic, it is peopled with characters you will never forget.

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Where Women Are Kings

Elijah, seven years old, is covered in scars and has a history of disruptive behaviour. His adoptive mother Nikki believes that she and her husband Obi are strong enough to accept his difficulties - and that being white will not affect her ability to raise a black son.

Elijah's birth mother Deborah loves her son like the world has never known. Elijah thinks it's his fault they can't be together.

Each of them faces more challenges than they could have dreamed, but just as Elijah starts to settle in, a shocking event rocks their fragile peace and the result is devastating.

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