The Oldest Student at the Sorbonne
This is the story of Russell Hodge, a high-powered lawyer and family man and his struggle with mental illness, meaning and self. Having recovered from financial and emotional collapse, he retires with wealth, success and a loving family. But something is missing from his life.
At the age of 66, Russell leaves his wife and children to study philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris. Isolated by age and without a command of the French language, he faces his greatest challenge yet. Depressed and alone, he delves into his past for inspiration and understanding as he tries to make sense of his life. With another mental collapse imminent he is forced to confront his demons, and make a choice that determines the course of the rest of his life.
In Paris, Russell befriends gypsies and beggars, including a destitute young woman who will radically alter his understanding of himself. When he returns home to Sydney, Russell feels overwhelmed and flees his home, leaving everything behind, with only the shirt on his back, to live on the streets of Sydney. He learns to survive on the street, indistinguishable from any homeless man, except for his boots.
From homelessness he checks into a psychiatric hospital, where he faces hard truths. This memoir traces one man’s self-reflective journey from high-flying deals to gypsies in Paris to the homeless community in Sydney. From the depths of despair to residential rehabilitation and recovery and everything in between.