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All Things Consoled: A Daughter's Memoir

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,041 ratings  ·  167 reviews
Elizabeth Hay, one of Canada's most beloved novelists has written a poignant, complex, and hugely resonant memoir about the shift she experienced between being her parents' daughter to their guardian and caregiver.

As the daughter takes charge, and the writer takes notes, her mother and father are like two legendary icebergs floating south. They melt into the ocean of parti
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by McClelland & Stewart
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  1,041 ratings  ·  167 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful- truthful -heartfelt - memoir about Elizabeth's aging parents...
.....Elizabeth's brimful relationship - (at times) -
her parents illness -dementia - retirement home & financial realties....and ultimately love...
The last chapters were especially moving!!!
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hegel, Logic

Jianzhi Sengcan, Third Zen Patriarch

In the later years of a longtime relationship, every move each partner can make is the wrong one in the other’s eyes. The stress of that deadlock can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

It does here.

The intuition of the freedom of Being is a fragile thing, for once separated from it (and
Canadian Reader
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
“acts of love are never uncomplicated”

Acclaimed Canadian novelist, Elizabeth Hay has produced a beautifully written and affecting memoir about her parents’ last years. In 2008 when Hay’s narrative opens, the frail couple are in their late eighties and living in London, Ontario, a mid-sized city in the southwest of the province, some seven hours’ drive from the author’s Ottawa home. Gordon, Elizabeth’s father, had been an ambitious secondary school teacher of history and then a high-school pr
Nov 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was in dangerous personal territory, in fraught border country in which my parents were sliding into neediness and I was rising in power, yet losing my own life.

All Things Consoled is esteemed Canadian novelist Elizabeth Hay's account of taking on the role as her parents' primary family contact as they reached their final years. Complicating this always demanding function is the difficult relationship that Hay had with her parents, and as she recounts incidents from throughout her life to
Brandon Forsyth
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Emotionally devastating. Elizabeth Hay writes with unflinching honesty and lyrical beauty. This book feels like a gift.
Lori Bamber
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a remarkable book! Elizabeth Hay is a brilliant, beautiful, effective writer. Here she takes on the most difficult subject of all: the adult child and her parents in decline. Agonizing. So honest it is sometimes off-putting, freeing us all from the constraints imposed by presenting only our polite and polished selves, the one that is too sweet to be really human.

If I was a Pulitzer judge, this would get my vote. It has the potential to change the way we see families and ourselves. And whil
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Heart-breaking, personal, authentic, raw-not an "Alzheimer's book" or how to guide-a story of one family- yet a story of every family. Will make you think differently about parenting our parents and how you might handle being parented by your children in the future-or making choices not to be......very real and timely conversation-starter for our generation. People are living so much longer than in our grandparent's generation-changes the playing field. In my mother's fairly small home there are ...more
“Ancient Romans used to distinguish between senectus (still lively) and decrepitus (done for)” (from Akin by Emma Donoghue). In this memoir about her relationship with her parents, specifically about their last few years, Hay speaks plainly of her belief that they lived too long, a sentiment they would also have echoed. Their final years were marked by illness, depression and her mother’s dementia; it was all so difficult, and expensive. Gordon and Jean Hay stumbled into their early nineties in ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
so good! elizabeth hay tells a difficult story with grace. while this memoir will be relatable for anyone with aging parents and grandparents who are dealing with declining bodies and minds, hay also includes some wonderful insights and observations around end of life care, family dynamics, and family history.
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
3.5 STARS - This was the first time I had read a book by Canadian author Elizabeth Hay. In All Things Consoled, she writes about her complicated relationship with her parents growing up as well as the changing dynamic between herself and her parents as they aged.

Hay's writing is frank, especially when she discusses her turbulent childhood and the complicated relationship she had with her parents. Through the ups and downs, her love for her parents is the focus of the book and there are some emo
❀ Susan G
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A tale of consolation, love and coming to terms with the messiness of family as the author cares for her parents as they age. Tissues are needed as Hay's says good bye to her parents and reflects on lifetimes of moments as their relationship changed as they aged and declined. ...more
Friederike Knabe
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very moving, thought provoking, gentle, beautifully written. A full review is in process.
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
As we've just moved my 91-year old mother into assisted living, this sweet, sad book deeply resonated with me. ...more
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am a huge Elizabeth Hay fan (well, she's had some real winners and others that I am so-so on), so I really enjoyed reading her memoir. She details her life growing mostly in terms of her relationships with her parents and how it shaped her-what did they expect, were they proud, how did they get along... And a little bit on how her brothers and sisters fared with the same parents, eg why not as combative, or why 1 kid picked on more than others, or is that how all of them remember it, etc. I ju ...more
Luke Spooner
Jan 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
This made me really sad, and I'm really glad I read it. ...more
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Acutely observed, terribly honest.
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Told with her signature grace and eloquence, this was a lovely memoir to read.
Elizabeth Hay certainly doesn’t pull any punches as she tells her story of how she looked after her parents in the final years of their lives. She takes us through their steady (and occasionally sudden) decline, and describes exactly what it’s like for an adult child caregiver to be in charge of their elderly parents’ health as they inch towards the end of the lives.

She obviously loves her parents and shows great compassion, but she is truthful about her frustration and guilt in dealing with a s
Jeanne Bank
Oct 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I heard on an interview and knew I had to read this- currently going through a similar situation of caregiving - so beautifully written - raw and honest
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not an easy read if you have recently lost a parent or have an infirm or terminally ill parent. If I had known the subject matter, I would not have ready it, but perhaps it was what I needed just now. Because I have recently lost my Dad, I found this a hard go in places, however, the writing style is not sentimental and I found it comforting regarding the shared experience of bearing witness at the end of a parents life.
The realization that our parents are flawed people who many or many
Gabriele Goldstone
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very much enjoyed this. Reading it was like dinner with a good friend, discussing the many layers of parent-care and family relationships. My parents are now both deceased and I miss them. But I'm in my sixties and feel a new freedom with this orphan-stage of life while some of my friends of mine are wrapped up in complicated care-giving relationships.

I especially loved the ending and the dilemma of the lemon meringue pie. I'm happy that it worked out so well in the end. Not sure my mom could h
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
A memoir about caring for aging parents until their death. The book is structured as a season of essays. It's thoughtful and well thought out, and Hay doesn't sugarcoat the ugliness of old age or her parents' lives. Her father was sometimes rather abusive and hard.

I found this book very easy to relate to, even though my parents are still in good health. Hay is talking about a basic human experience- caring for aging parents, and I don't think I've read many memoirs about that. Recommended.
Sue Bolton
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
This book really resonated with me for many reasons. I lost my Mother in September, a day before this book hit the shelves. I watched her waste away in much the same way as described in this book. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to endure in my 58 years on this planet. My Mother lived in London, On. I live in Kingston, On, not far from Ottawa. The similarities really hit home. I had such a flood of emotions and allowed the tears to flow. I have 22 years experience working in Long ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hit close to home as I am also the primary caregiver for my parents. I could relate to the author's struggles and range of emotions in the day to day dealings with aging parents. ...more
Aug 21, 2019 rated it liked it
My friend recommended it and I am thankful for that insight it provides.
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Book number 42 for the year, and the best read. So moving and thought-provoking. Loved it.
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful gift from Elizabeth Hay. Profound.
Laurie W
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Hay perceives and writes so well. I’m not sure about the entertainment value of this non-fiction book about the diminishment and death of her aging parents but for someone like me who is going through it, it was affirming and resonant and comforting. The relationship between adult children and their parents is very complicated!
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written with love and compassion.
My full review at: https://thelastpageturnedbookblog.blo...
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this book, read by the author. I was often mesmerized by her use of language and turn of phrase. This book pulled at my heartstrings. Highly recommend, especially to those of a certain age who are going through or have already experienced the inevitable aging of parents.
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Evergreen Summer ...: Aging Parents 1 6 Jul 19, 2019 07:57AM  

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From Elizabeth Hay's web site:
"Elizabeth Hay was born in Owen Sound, Ontario, the daughter of a high school principal and a painter, and one of four children. When she was fifteen, a year in England opened up her world and set her on the path to becoming a writer. She attended the University of Toronto, then moved out west, and in 1974 went north to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. For th

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“They were like an iceberg, it occurred to me, my father the seven-sights that was under the water and my mother the luminous portion riding the waves. But no, they were two icebergs: solitary phenomena, impressive, independent, known only to themselves. I felt their hidden seven-eighths inside me as a dark bulkiness whose outlines I was always trying to map.” 0 likes
“They were like an iceberg, it occurred to me, my father the seven-eighths that was under the water and my mother the luminous portion riding the waves. But no, they were two icebergs: solitary phenomena, impressive, independent, known only to themselves. I felt their hidden seven-eighths inside me as a dark bulkiness whose outlines I was always trying to map.” 0 likes
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