When Things Are Alive They Hum poses profound questions about the nature of love and existence, the ways grief changes us, and how we confront the hand fate has dealt us.
Marlowe and Harper share a bond deeper than most sisters, shaped by the loss of their mother in childhood. For Harper, living with what she calls the Up syndrome and gifted with an endless capacity for wonder, Marlowe and she are connected by an invisible thread, like the hum that connects all things. For Marlowe, they are bound by her fierce determination to keep Harper, born with a congenital heart disorder, alive.
Now 25, Marlowe is finally living her own life abroad, pursuing her studies of a rare species of butterfly secure in the knowledge Harper’s happiness is complete, having found love with boyfriend, Louis. But then she receives the devastating call that Harper’s heart is failing. She needs a heart transplant but is denied one by the medical establishment because she is living with a disability. Marlowe rushes to her childhood home in Hong Kong to be by Harper’s side and soon has to answer the question – what lengths would you go to save your sister?
I’m delighted to be on the blogtour for When Things Are Alive They Hum by Hannah Bent and invited her over for a quickie..
Tell me about your book and why we should read it?
When Things Are Alive They Hum is a story about two sisters Marlowe and Harper. Harper was born with a congenital heart disorder and lives with Down syndrome. When Harper needs a lifesaving heart transplant but is denied one by the medical establishment because of her disability, Marlowe rushes from London where she is studying, to her childhood home in Hong Kong to be by Harper’s side and soon has to answer the question – what lengths would you go to save your sister?
This book was written as a love letter to my sister Camilla, who lives with Down syndrome. When she was a teenager she contracted encephalitis and overnight we lost the vivacious energetic young lady we knew. In writing, I tried to explore the grief that I had, as well as the deep love, and so much of the wonder she inspired in me growing up. I hope some of what my sister gave me can now be passed on through this book. Anyone looking to read about sisterhood, love, grief and what can exist beyond that will hopefully enjoy my book.
If someone was to write your life story what would the title be?
This is such a good question. I have a deep fascination and love for water. I have always lived near the ocean and loved to swim. Water has been a very healing presence in my life. I feel like I could describe so much of my life in a reflection or meditation on water; it’s turbulence as well as it’s stillness, so perhaps I would try and honour water some way in the title of my own life story.
What’s the strangest fan question or request you’ve received?
I’ve had a request to collaborate with a men’s underwear brand… Wasn’t quite sure what to make of that…
If you could co-write with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be?
I’m a huge fan of Max Porter’s work. I read Grief Is The Thing With Feathers over and over again. His words are sublime.
Tell me something nobody else knows about you (yet!).
I LOVE to vacuum. My husband knows this about me – but perhaps he doesn’t know exactly how much I like it! I particularly love vacuuming while listening to RNB and I find that I’m secretly a little happy when my two-year-old makes a huge mess, especially if it’s the kind that warrants the use of my Dyson.
Finally, please recommend 3 books that you have recently read and tell me why you’ve chosen these.
I’m reading a lot of non-fiction about womanhood as it is the over-arching subject of my next novel.
The Cost Of Living by Deborah Levy—I was late to come across this book and wish I had read it earlier. It is filled with so many beautifully written and profound insights on what it means to be a woman.
Dear Ijeawele: A Feminist Manifesto In Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie—This was given to me on my birthday this year by a dear friend of mine who is also my daughter’s God-mother. Although it was given specifically to me, I realise that it is just as much a gift for my mum and later down the track, my daughter too. Written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to her childhood friend who had just had a little girl, she shares insights on what it means to raise a young girl a feminist today.
Ask Me About My Uterus by Abby Norman—This book was important for me to read as a woman who lives with endometriosis but I would also recommend it to those who don’t have endometriosis. It is one of the most intelligent, perceptive and eloquently written books I have read in a long time, highlighting gender bias diagnosing, medical gaslighting and how in many ways not much has changed since the term hysteria was first coined in the 1800s. This is an important book about a young woman finding the power of her voice.