I recently read – and reviewed – a book that had a character with Parkinson’s in it. He was a minor character, it is true, and an elderly gentleman, which does not break any stereotypes, but he was there, he was fairly represented, and, in fact, he led the main characters to an important clue.
“A pensioner […] Jarl Hammar is a thin man who is clearly suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He is neatly dressed in a cardigan, with a handkerchief knotted around his neck.”
– Lars Kepler, The Hypnotist
Jarl is a widower, who states, on being asked whether he knew anything of events in the apartment block one recent morning, that he is “on medication. It makes me sleep very heavily.” He waves a “shaky” arm, and speaks in a “hoarse, shaky voice.” The clue is derived from his cleaning lady, who is – fortunately – present when the detective calls.
That’s pretty much it. He’s barely there. But he does come across with a kind of quiet dignity, and extreme gentleness, which is nice (particularly as the book features some decidedly non-gentle acts elsewhere).
Try as I might, I find it difficult to think of any other fictional representations of Parkinson’s in novels. Now, I do tend to read quite a lot* – much of it fiction – but I’ve only known that I have Parkinson’s for less than 2 years, so there’s a good chance that a multitude of minor characters have slipped by me in the past without me registering their condition.
Of course, there’s Maggie in Love and Other Drugs – a fictional character introduced into a true story to spice it up for the movie. As I noted a while back, the book that the film was based on (Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman) contained no Maggie – in fact, no long term post-Pfizer girlfriend at all, let alone one who suffers from Young Onset Parkinson’s.
Can you think of any characters in novels who have Parkinson’s?
*That is an understatement.