Book Review: Seven Signs of Life – Aoife Abbey

Welcome back!



Grief. Anger. Joy. Fear. Distraction. Disgust. Hope.

All emotions we expect to encounter over our lifetime. But what if this was every day? And what if your ability to manage them was the difference between life and death?

For Aoife Abbey, a doctor in intensive care, these experiences are part of the job – from grief when you make a potentially fatal mistake to joy when the ward unexpectedly breaks into song. Seven Signs of Life is Abbey’s extraordinary account of what it means to be alive and how it feels to care for a living.


Well, it’s not like me to pick up a medical memoir…! Again. What can I say, I do love them, and Seven Signs of Life has made it on to my ‘highly recommend’ list.

Seven Signs of Life is very different to any other medical memoir I’ve read. Abbey focuses on seven different emotions we all encounter, but from the perspective of not just being human but making life-changing decisions about other humans.

Reflecting on Abbey’s writing filled me with a sense of awe. She has mastered the art of introspection and empathy; not only that but she also manages to actually get it down in writing for the world to see and hear.

I loved the format of the different emotions and how Abbey explains that the emotions are not one-dimensional. Grief, anger, joy, fear, distraction, disgust, and hope take many forms. She draws on each of these emotions from herself, her patients, and their families.

I am not a healthcare professional but I did think while reading this book that other people in the same profession may take comfort from this book, especially those in junior positions. I can imagine there is a lot of “Is this feeling normal?” when faced with life and death in its many forms – and I think Abbey’s answer to all of those questions is ‘Yes’.

Seven Signs of Life is totally absorbing and although it does take on a serious subject matter, it is speckled with humorous elements. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it to anyone who is fascinated by the inner-workings of a hospital and its staff.

Many thanks to Vintage for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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You can support your local bookshop by buying Seven Signs of Life through them directly, or via Hive.

Comment below

What do you think of Seven Signs of Life? Will you be reading it? Let me know in the comments below.

Wishing you a wonderfully bookish week,


4 thoughts on “Book Review: Seven Signs of Life – Aoife Abbey

    1. I DNF’d All That Remains but I’ve heard other people rave about it. I think my favourites have been:

      Adam Kay’s books (This is Going to Hurt and The Nightshift Before Christmas)

      Joanna Cannon – Breaking & Mending

      Unnatural Causes – Richard Shepherd

      They’re all slightly different so it depends what you fancy reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh fair enough! One of my colleagues raves about it 😂 The only one I’ve tried is Language of Kindness but I DNF’d. Unnatural Causes is another one I’ve seen a lot of so that might be the one I go for!

        Liked by 1 person

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