Rated of 5
by Janice Mortal? Then read this
Nicola, a sixty-five-year old Australian bohemian who is in a terminal stage of cancer, comes to stay with her old friend Helen, a writer (the author?), while she undergoes an alternative treatment. Garner's stark style is a pastiche of vivid details-- sometimes poetry, sometimes farce--that seem random at first, but gradually flesh out a portrait of two women inhabiting the same strange landscape in very different states of pain. It's as though the reader is watching an impressionist, stroke by stroke, build up a masterpiece, which this is.
The novel bluntly presses the question: How much 'space' do we owe the demands of the dying? Even when the patient is beloved? Or beyond reason? Are we required at all costs to nurse hope?
Garner's answer here isn't simple, either in her lean plot or in its larger resonances. Any reader who has lived Helen's dilemma, as I have (and as most mortals, at some point) will appreciate her honesty in tackling one of life's ugly-let's-ignore-it, transforming realities. Part of the honesty is her refusal to be consistently funny or tragic. Her art is to work a gamut of rowdy emotions into a convincing wholeness, provoking thought about how we should care for others and ourselves. And I'll be thinking through this book for a long time.
Rated of 5
by Kathy The Spare Room
I found the story depressing. I admired Helen for being able to offer her friend a place to come and be while undergoing treatment, even as unorthodox as it was, and trying to be compassionate all the while growing more and more tired and frustrated. The book was not an enjoyable read to me.
Rated of 5
by Joyce Almost got through it without crying
I read this book in a night, it's short and bittersweet. I'm not sure how I would have felt about this book if I hadn't had a sister die of cancer, it was more painful to read because I kept thinking of all she went through. I wish I could have cared for her like the author cares for her friend. Its not just a pretty story, its very truthful and shows all the emotions that caregivers go through. I recommend this book for a quick read and for its honesty and forthrightness.
Rated of 5
by Jeanne Facing cancer with hope and realism...
This novel is concise and competently explores the tenuous hope given by, as well as the inevitable pitfalls of, alternative cancer treatments. The interactions between the two main characters are presented realistically and directly. Some of the physical details of one character's suffering from terminal cancer might be a little too graphic for the squeamish reader, but the novel's sense of place (Melbourne, Australia) adds interest and variety. Definitely a worthwhile book.
Rated of 5
by Phoebe A compassionate yet accurate presentation on caregiving
Having recently been in care taking for a dear friend who underwent horrible chemotherapy followed by two months of intense depression, the experiences of Helen in caring for Nicola rang so true. Before taking it on who would think the 24 hour care of feeding, sheet changing, transporting, companionship while keeping ones feelings to self could be so exhausting in such a short period of time. And this with the conflicting feeling of what it does to ones own life and relationships. Yet you would not want to be any where else doing anything else.
It may be fiction but it rang so true to my experience.
For a story based on ultimate sadness, it is a tribute to friendship, what we will do for our friends who really are our family.
Highly recommend this short easy read.
Rated of 5
by Joan An Australian Exploding Doormat The Spare Room by Helen Garner, an Australian writer who I hadn’t read before, is a fast and intense read. I really didn’t want to put it down. The story is completely focused on the relationship between the first person protagonist, Helen, and Nicola, an old friend who is suffering from stage four cancer.
Nicola, who lives outside Sydney, comes to stay with Helen, who lives near Melbourne, when she is undergoing an alternative therapy for cancer. This is an “exploding doormat” story: Helen is the dutiful friend who finds that more and more of her time and energy are used to accommodate Nicola’s needs, physical and mental. Finally, when Nicola’s niece comes to stay, she realizes that she’s been put in position beyond her abilities and she explodes with anger.
I writhed with recognition at a situation that seemed so realistic to me – who can measure how far a friendship should go? I particularly liked the setting of Australia, where what is everyday to the characters came across as exotic to an American reader. I would have liked a bit more backstory about how the relationship between the two friends developed, but that might have cut the intensity of the plot, which was tightly focused on the relationship between the two women. Although the story is primarily about friendship, the details of the progress of cancer and the desperation of the treatment are extremely intense for someone looking for an escapist novel
News Corp will officially split into two companies June 28(May 24 2013) As expected, News Corp has announced it will officially split its publishing and entertainment businesses on 28 June.
Its board approved the...