The novel she forgot is now being published

By Jonathan Kalmus, February 23, 2012
Alexandra Singer

Alexandra Singer

A high-flying trainee lawyer who lost her memory after a three-month coma is to have her first novel published - after forgetting she had ever written it.

In 2008, 25-year-old Alexandra Singer was about to begin a jet-setting law career in the Greek office of a top London law firm. She spoke three languages, had already travelled widely and spent her spare time writing a novel.

But a severe bout of cerebral lupus, an immune-system disease, caused major brain inflammation. In emergency measures to save her from irreversible brain damage, doctors at London's Royal Free Hospital placed her in a three-month-long induced coma.

Neurologists' hopes of her recovery were low, and Alexandra's family travelled from Manchester, packing up her London flat because they believed she would never be well enough to live there again.

"When I woke up I was completely paralysed, I couldn't talk, I couldn't move any muscles," recalled Alexandra, who had completely forgotten the last five years of her life because of long-term memory loss. "I was perfectly lucid and after a time I started speaking Italian and Hebrew, but I'd forgotten how to speak English."

Her younger brother, Joshua, found in her flat a manuscript of the novel Alexandra had been writing before her illness, and brought it to the hospital.

After brain scans showed Alexandra had miraculously escaped permanent damage, she embarked on relearning how to use her hands and how to write, and completed the novel.

Tea at the Grand Tazi will be published next month. The novel, about a British woman who becomes trapped in the seedy underbelly of Marrakech, Morocco, was spotted after she entered a literary competition.

Alexandra is learning how to walk again, and has begun a master's at Manchester University in health care law and ethics. She said: "I became a lawyer because there is pressure in the Jewish community to achieve in a conventional way. We care far too much about that. I never thought I would be published. I had to read the offer email five times to make sure."

Last updated: 1:58pm, February 23 2012