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The Kindest Thing

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  574 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
What would you do? When Deborah reluctantly helps her beloved husband, Neil, end his life and conceals the truth, she is charged with his murder. As the trial unfolds and her daughter Sophie testifies against her, Deborah, still reeling from grief, fights to defend her actions. Twelve jurors hold her fate in their hands - and if found guilty she will serve a life sentence. ...more
Hardcover, 263 pages
Published January 31st 2011 by Robinson Publishing (first published January 1st 2010)
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Jan 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
Should have been a great book - essentially about euthanasia, but I found the main character to be self-indulgent and unlikeable, which impacted on my enjoyment of the plot. I wanted to get to the end so I could move onto another book, rather than to find out what was going to happen, as I didn't really care whether she was found guilty or not.I came away wishing it had been written by Jodi Picoult instead. The main plot idea was good though and I did chose to finish it.
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fairly short, this book examines the reality of assisted suicide from the point of view of the assistant. At times a little clumsy, the book is written like a stream of the protagonist's thoughts and memories, meaning the past and present are interspersed. Overall a thought provoking story.
Melinda Elizabeth
Aug 15, 2014 rated it liked it
Assisted suicide is a contentious issue, and ‘The kindest thing’ isn’t scared of bringing the arguments to the forefront to discuss in this novel. Deborah is not a willing element of her husbands demise. There is a long fought battle to help him live with his illness comfortably. However the book leans on the side of compassion for people with terminal illness, and it’s undoubtedly going to cause some ruffled feathers.

It doesn’t help that Deborah isn’t exactly the most likeable character – the
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
This thought-provoking book really played with my emotions; I could relate to many of the themes in direct and indirect ways and therefore I was immediately drawn deep into the story and found the book hard to put down.

This would be a great pick for a book club since it’s full of heavy topics to discuss in great depth:

• The fear of some horrible unexpected degenerative medical condition hitting you in the prime of life.
• The fear of some horrible unexpected degenerative medical condition hittin
Samantha Curtis
Dec 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
After reading *witness* by cath i knew i found another great author that i wanted to read more books of.

Well what can i say about this book. Its based on a loving couple where the husband gets diagnose with MND a deadly disease that has no cure.

We go through the life when Deborah and neil was uni students to when neil got told he had MND. We walk through how neil begged Deborah to help him die.

This book did get me at time. Like it felt there was no caring ro remorse what she did. But then when i
Jan 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
I had no empathy for the main character at all whilst reading this novel. I found her to be shallow and deceitful and I never really believed that she mourned the death of her husband. Her parenting skills also leave a lot to be desired. Very disappointed.
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Having read and hugely enjoyed The Silence Between Breaths awhile ago I was pleased to spot The Kindest Thing in my library - my joy was short lived tho.

This is a really short and quick read that took me barely any time to read and no real effort was involved in reading it. Was ok but not in the same league as The Silence Between Breaths imo - a shame.

Shannon Canaday
Sep 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: whiffers
Set aside in mid-May under the assumption that I would circle back to it. But I just have absolutely no desire to do that so "whiffer" it is. I can't comment on my opinion of the book except to say I started reading it and just didn't want to continue to do so.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
In this novel, Cath Staincliffe tackles the controversial subject of mercy killings. After 25 years of a strong and happy marriage and raising two children to adulthood, Deborah’s husband Neil is diagnosed with motor neuron disease, a cruel and fatal condition for which there is no cure. Afraid of dying an undignified and slow death, Neil asks Deborah the unthinkable – would she assist him in his suicide before his suffering becomes too great? When Deborah reluctantly gives in to her husband’s w ...more
Jun 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cath Staincliffe is a well-known crime author, the Sal Kilkenny series and the Blue Murder television programme. 'The Kindest Thing' is a new direction for her writing, yes there is a crime that is central to the story, but this is also a love story and a story of modern family life and how one decision can change your world,

So - what would you do? Your partner of over twenty years has Motor Neurone disease - he wants to choose when to die, before he becomes just a shell of the man he is. He wan
Zoe Allen
Jul 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
"British law does not permit us to assist in the taking of life, no matter what the individual circumstances. So called mercy killing is illegal under our law."

This book striked me as being interesting as it raised the issue of euthanasia, a topic I have a particular interest in. Should it be legal to help someone who is terminally ill die?

Throughout this book, we are taken through the life of Deborah and how she went from being a uni student to sitting at her own court case for assisting her t
A story that could happen to anyone but there is no suspense, no excitement at all. For Deborah, this is her roller-coaster and life-changing story but this situation might be avoided if she has a different spiritual view in life! I dont know but if she has a strong faith in God, despite the love towards her husband, she will NOT do it and not suffer the consequences before God's judgement and with the law!

Why we have to blame someone for what turned out of our relationship or what we are now?
Jul 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
This was a total heart-wrenching book.
It is about a fifty year old woman named Deborah who helps her husband of 24 years die and the consquences that it bring to her and her entire family.

I really felt bad for Deborah, she was a very likeable character, and when reading this you can't help but think about what you would do in that situation. She is totally in a lose lose situation but I don't think even she could predict how bad things would get over it. In fact if I was her, I would have been
Jan 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sadly I’m sure, thousands of people find themselves, through no fault of their own, in the same dreadful situation as the central character in this book. Cath Staincliffe writes about assisted suicide with intelligence and sensitivity.

Cleverly, the story offers arguments for and against euthanasia. I felt like one of the members of the jury, in this tender story. Trying to calculate if ‘Mercy’ killings should still be considered as murder in British Law.

This book also creates awareness for Mot
Tonia Turko
Dec 07, 2012 rated it liked it

I thought this was an ok book. Written quite simply, easy to read. I found it hard to have a lot of sympathy for Deborah at the start, but 3/4 of the way through, when she discovered the secret about her father, I really felt for her. The relationship she had with her daughter Sophie was sad, a reflection of her own relationship with her mother.
Deborah felt powerless about her relationship with her daughter, probably not helped by the depression she felt after her birth and the death of her o
Kathleen Hagen
The Kindest Thing, by Cath Staincliffe, b-plus, narrated by Anne Dover, produced by Isis Audio, downloaded from

Deborah and Neil have been married for 18 years and lived together six years before they got married. Neil gets an incurable disease from which he might die after losing his ability to talk, swallow, walk, etc. Neil decides that he doesn’t want to wait for the natural death but wants to choose his time of ding and he wants Deborah to help him. He pressures her for months, s
Jeff Koloze
Jul 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
A wonderful example of anti-Catholicism at its best from a British perspective, this novel contains the usual cast of characters who support assisted suicide: a protagonist who is called a "non-believer", her dead husband who was a fallen-away Catholic, pages of attacks against Catholic sexual ethics (see pages 157-9), and frequent references to pagan deities and Greek mythological characters (see, for example, pages 58, 80, 129, 156, and 261). That the characters cannot speak coherently and log ...more
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this in under 24 hours!
Just had to keep turning the pages of the book which is told by a woman as she is on trial for assisting her husband's death after more than thirty years together. It was sharp and punchy, getting straight to the point. The background of the family was added through recollections Deborah (the main character) made as the trial progresses. I liked this as it meant we were thrown straight into the story as opposed to having chapters of the family history to sift through
Jul 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an emotional read! The main character is very real and easily identified with making her situation all the harder. I was a little confused with the story jumping between past and present but didn't effect the power of the story. The telling of the court case was fantastic, especially how she viewed the jury and I found myself hating the prosecution...couldn't they see how awful it all was?

I also liked how near the beginning, she described how her boyfriend (now husband) described all the Gr
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
It is all about a woman Deborah and how she deals with the aftermath of a mercy killing. Her husband, who she adores more than anything in the world, falls ill and he asks her when it is time to help him do the deed. She does and ends up behind bars facing a murder charge. While trying to cope with her loss and being apart from her children she has to cope with being on trial for something her husband wanted. She has to convince the jury that she wasn't sane when she helped him end his life (eve ...more
Jun 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Bittersweet and tough to read. I carried on ploughing through because I hate to give up on a book, but it was really hard going at times. This was not because of the writing, but because of the subject matter. The main character, Deborah, is on trial for the murder of her husband, who was suffering from motor neurone disease, and the story is told via a mixture of flashbacks and present day court scenes. It raises a lot of questions about the morality and, possibly more importantly, the humanity ...more
Hazel McHaffie
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the closest thing to my own book on assisted dying, 'Right to Die',that I've read. This one is written from the perspective of the wife of a man with Motor Neurone Disease, who helps him die and is then accused of murder and sent for trial. The depiction of family relationships, the impact of stress and mental illness, the horror of neurological degenerative illness are all handled sensitivly and plausibly. The book challenges readers to consider what they would do in difficult situation ...more
Jun 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
When im almost done reading, i found out that there's too much back up stories of their past lives but its ok, its worth well then. It's a very emotional novel that couldn't put it down to knows what will be the end of the whole story. And at the end, i like what's Deborah's came into her mind: "We are led from disaster and granted a wish - to stay together for the rest of our lives, to die together. And then we become two trees, an oak and a lime, side by side, our roots tangled in the earth, o ...more
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-recent-ones
Personally I found this enormously powerful and very moving at times - there was a tear in my eye once or twice. It is the story of Deborah who assists in the killing of her husband Neil who has Motor Neurone Disease. The narrative ranges from the current events to the start of their lives together. Thought provoking definite - what would YOU do in her situation? I found her character very open and believable. One of the better books I've read recently and one that will stay with me for a while ...more
Cleo Bannister
Nov 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
The story of how Neil received a MND diagnosis and soon afterwards asked his wife of 20 plus years to end his life was heartbreaking but not mawkish.

The story takes place as Deborah awaits and stands trial after Neil's death. There are passages written describing events beforehand, both describing the decision making but others from the start of their relationship and her relationship with her mother, brother and long dead father as well as her children and Neil's parents.

Well worth a read, well
Sandra Shannon
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I found this book interesting, it is the second book I have read by this author. I like the style of writing where the reader is taken back into the past. Then back to the present. The issue of euthanasia is a complicated one and I thought the author dealt with it well. I think the main character was flawed due to her loveless relationship with her mother, and if anything, Neil was selfish in asking her to assist in his death. I am really enjoying reading Cath Staincliffe's books.
Jan 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Another book that sounded really good from the back cover: When Deborah reluctantly helps her beloved husband, Neil, end his life and conceals the truth, she is charged with his murder. Throughout the book we read of her trial sprinkled with flashbacks of her life with her husband.

But again, I feel like the whole concept was not executed as well as it could have been. Thought provoking, perhaps, but many of the characters, even the main character were not that likeable.
L.A. Berry
Dec 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Cath Staincliffe managed to write a balanced novel about a difficult subject. As a reader, I experienced the deep routed sadness of the protagonist's plight without excessive melodrama. The flashbacks were cleverly constructed so that by the end of the novel, I felt that I understood the important aspects of the story without the disruption that can happen with frequent changes of time and place.
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a story of a loving wife(Deborah) who honours her husbands(Neil) wish to die and finds herself in the dock for murder. Neil has Motor Neurone Desease and wants to end his life before the illness destroys him, Deborah refuses to help him when asked prevously but finally she agrees to help, then Deborah finds herself charged with his murder. A loving Family's life turned upside down

Loved this book, I couldn't put it down, I needed to know the verdict!
Sep 08, 2010 added it
A truely emotional story of how far a woman will go to help the man she has shared her life with... Agree or disagree with the topic of assisted suicide your heart will go out to this woman as you are taken through the heartbreaking and totally unselfish decision she made. I read this book in no time at all and it left an impact on me that only a really well written book can leave.
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Cath Staincliffe is a best-selling, award-winning novelist, radio playwright and the creator of ITV's hit series, Blue Murder, starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis. Cath's books have been short-listed for the British Crime Writers Association best first novel award, for the Dagger in the Library and selected as Le Masque de l'Année. In 2012 Cath won the CWA Short Story Dagger for Laptop, ...more
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