With its limited settings, The Spare Room
reads more like a play than a novel.
unfolds in the offices of an alternative health clinic and in the home of a
woman determined to serve her terminally ill friend. Tensions arise because
Nicola pretends to believe in unconventional treatments (including large doses
of Vitamin C, coffee enemas and ozone saunas) while Helen struggles over whether
or not she should warn her guest that the Theodore Institute preys on the hopes
of desperate patients. The demands of caretaking culminate in an intervention
that forces the patient to stop "smiling" in spite of her pain, and the hostess
to stop feeling responsible for someone else's choices.
Cancer is a disheartening subject, but the author doesn't allow her namesake
narrator to indulge in pity or in lengthy flashbacks of Nicola's healthier days....
Beyond the Book
Cancer is the term used to describe any
malignant growth or tumor caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division.
A cancer is described as Stage 4 when it has spread from the original site to other
parts of the body. When we first meet Nicola, she has already undergone surgery
and chemotherapy. Below are some of the alternative treatments she tries during the course of the book:
The American Cancer Society has a poor view of colon therapy
involves the cleansing of the large intestine with up to 20 gallons of liquid
that might include water, herbal solutions, enzymes or other substances such as
coffee. Proponents of colon therapy say that detoxifying the body through
the removal of accumulated waste from...