A Stranger in Paradise – A Magnificent Story of Triumph Over Adversary
A Stranger in Paradise
A Magnificent Story of Triumph Over Adversary
I loved this book so much I had to read it twice. ‘A Stranger in Paradise’ is a magnificent story of triumph over adversary and from the first few lines you will know you’re in the presence of an extraordinary woman.
Bright, irreverent, compassionate, and extremely funny, Julie Chimes had me enthralled from start to finish. Her book has all the qualities of a gripping psychological thriller, complete with unexpected twists. But it’s not; it’s a memoir – the true story of a terrifying brush with death, the result of a brutal attack by a paranoid schizophrenic with a 14 inch kitchen knife. Yet, despite the horror and the pain, she somehow survived to tell her story. One she shares with a quirky blend of humour, honesty, meticulous observation and courage.
Julie Chimes never gives up on her search for truth and is convinced that the attack had a deeper meaning. Her relentless mission of self-inquiry leads her to accept that it was all meant to happen, in order to awaken her to the purpose of Life and the illusion of our material existence. She includes some fascinating references to premonitions, precognitive dreams, and a strange mediumistic forewarning that all appear to support this revelation. She takes us beyond the attack, beyond her ‘death’, on an exhilarating journey of heightened awareness, freedom, and Love.
The various characters in the book are brilliantly observed and often hilariously portrayed. There are some wonderful vignettes: two pompous and intimidating hospital consultants, aptly named ‘Pomp’ and ‘Circumstance’ (Have they yet been struck off, one wonders?), the tedious nurse (‘Dave’s wife’) with an agenda of her own… and so many more.
Human shortcomings are highlighted: the apathy and selfishness of those who arrived at the scene of the attack and did nothing to help, and the general lack of empathy and understanding of various health professionals. Then there were the dreadful inadequacies of the judicial system that led to further stress and financial losses for the victim of this terrible attack.
‘A Stranger in Paradise’ evokes strong emotions and I found myself laughing, crying, and wondering by turns. But it is also a deeply comforting book for we get to meet Julie’s wise Guide, one she names Veritas. And we are reminded that, regardless of Life’s challenges, even those as devastating as her own, we always have choices as to how we respond; with anger and retribution or, as Julie chose, with self-inquiry, compassion, and even humour. All of which lead us to realise that Life is so much more than we perceive; and that Love heals the most tragic of circumstances. Love is the unbreakable thread that weaves itself through this story. Even as the knife enters her body, Julie tells her attacker: I love you.
The book ends with a heart-warming love story in its own right, told from two perspectives. And, I’d better warn you, if that isn’t enough to make your eyes brim with tears there follows a poem, The Reflection – a breath-taking end to a truly unforgettable story.