The girl with nine wigs
Sophie is twenty-one when she is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. A striking, fun-loving student, her world is reduced overnight to the sterile confines of a hospital. But within these walls Sophie discovers a whole new world of white coats, gossiping nurses, and sexy doctors; of shared rooms, hair loss, and eyebrow pencils.
As wigs become a crucial part of Sophie's new life, she reclaims a sense of self-expression. Each of Sophie's nine wigs makes her feel different, gives her a different personality, and that is why each has its own name: Stella, Sue, Daisy, Blondie, Platina, Uma, Pam, Lydia, and Bebé. There's a bit of Sophie in all of them, and they reveal as much as they hide.
Sophie's voice is refreshingly candid and with a keen eye for the absurd, she makes you smile when you least expect it. Above all, this is the story of a girl who is determined to be much more than a cancer patient.
In 2005, at the time of this Amsterdam-based memoir, the author was a 21-year-old college student who was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Inspired by an episode of Sex and the City, Van Der Stap surmises that if the show’s Samantha can look fabulous wearing a wig, she can too. Though she experiences the customary cancer-related fears and trials during treatment for her aggressive disease, Van Der Stap discovers that her wig collection provides a way to engage in a “parallel life where cancer doesn’t exist.” Buoyed by the color and imagined characteristics of each wig (Uma is sensual, Sue is headstrong, Daisy is romantic, etc.), Van Der Stap undergoes 54 weeks of chemo and radiation while making time to fall in love, fantasize about an attractive physician, travel to the South of France, go dancing, and grasp what she can of life. While cancer is certainly not a gift, the experience deepens her bond with her sister, parents, grandmother, and friends, and helps her to learn that by changing just one letter, “live becomes love.” The author, now 32 and healthy, renders her tale with a poignant awareness of the joy that is possible even in the most dire circumstances. Readers will swiftly be drawn into this beautifully written story of a brave and quite fascinating young woman. Agent: Katrin Hodapp, Susanna Lea Agency. (Sept.)
The Girl with Nine Wigs is the astonishing record of a year in the life of an extraordinary woman. As illness threatens her life she lives life to the full and when she most fears death she learns to seize the day. – (De Telegraaf, The Netherlands)
An extraordinary book from an extraordinary girl (Marie Claire, Germany)
The grandeur of this book does not rest only in the description of pain that Sophie suffered but also the courage with which she suffered it. What Sophie van der Stap has written is truly a masterpiece; she has managed to seize the lightness in the gravest of situations.” (Der Spiegel, Germany)
“Sophie van der Stap’s writing is a nonconformist and courageous as the manner in which she attacks her new life. Her wit lends the autobiography lightness, even when the subject is heavy… An unforgettable book.’ (Frankfurter Allgemeine, Germany)
“She describes (her experience) beautifully, at times with great care and reserve, t times with great frankness.” (Parool, The Netherlands)
It could have been a tearjerker, but The Girl with Nine Wigs is anything but. With lots of humor and in strong and vigorous language, Sophie van der Stap writes abut her fight against cancer, about going bald, fake eyelashes, dating in a wig, and her secret love for Doctor K.” (Goed Gevoel, Belgium).