Kit's Reviews > The Spare Room

The Spare Room by Helen Garner
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May 29, 09


So many books, so little time, but as with movies, I rarely quit a book, even when I'm not totally engaged. The truth is, I most always find something redeeming, some little nugget I can walk away with.

This is a work of fiction by an Australian author who tells the story of Helen, a woman who takes in her friend, Nicola, while she undergoes dubious alternative treatment for cancer. Helen puts her own life on hold to become Nicola's full time caretaker.

I didn't particularly like the prose, and I most certainly did not like the egocentric character, Nicola. To die well means different things to different people, and the "nugget" I'm walking away with this time, is a confirmation that, for me, dying well is not about dragging friends and family into the mire of alternative medical care. This was a cautionary tale about desperately clinging to life by whatever means: intraveneous vitamin C, ozone treatments, and organic coffee enemas (yes, this last one truly was in the book). If confronted with terminal illness, I would like to think my choice would be to not give up, of course, but do make sound medical decisions, and spend whatever time I have left managing my comfort level, at peace, enjoying the people I love.
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message 1: by Kit (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kit So many books, so little time, but as with movies, I rarely quit a book, even when I'm not totally engaged. The truth is, I most always find something redeeming, some little nugget I can walk away with.

This is a work of fiction by an Australian author who tells the story of Helen, a woman who takes in her friend, Nicola, while she undergoes dubious alternative treatment for cancer. Helen puts her own life on hold to become Nicola's full time caretaker.

I didn't particularly like the prose, and I most certainly did not like the egocentric character, Nicola. To die well means different things to different people, and the "nugget" I'm walking away with this time, is a confirmation that, for me, dying well is not about dragging friends and family into the mire of alternative medical care. This was a cautionary tale about desperately clinging to life by whatever means: intraveneous vitamin C, ozone treatments, and organic coffee enemas (yes, this last one truly was in the book). If confronted with terminal illness, I would like to think my choice would be to not give up, of course, but do make sound medical decisions, and spend whatever time I have left managing my comfort level, at peace, enjoying the people I love.


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