A powerful, witty, and taut novel about a complex friendship between two womenone dying, the other called to care for herfrom an internationally acclaimed and award-winning author.
How much of ourselves must we give up to help a friend in need? Helen has little idea what lies aheadand what strength she must musterwhen she offers her spare room to an old friend, Nicola, who has arrived in the city for cancer treatment. Skeptical of the medical establishment, and placing all her faith in an alternative health center, Nicola is determined to find her own way to deal with her illness, regardless of the advice Helen offers.
In the weeks that follow, Nicolas battle for survival will turn not only her own life upside down but also those of everyone around her. The Spare Room is a magical gem of a bookgripping, moving, and unexpectedly funnythat packs a huge punch, charting a friendship as it is tested by the threat of death.
First, in my spare room, I swiveled the bed on to a
north-south axis. Isn't that supposed to align the sleeper with the planet's
positive energy flow, or something? She would think so. I made it up nicely with
a fresh fitted sheet, the pale pink one, since she had a famous feel for color,
and pink is flattering even to skin that has turned yellowish.
Would she like a flat pillow or a bulky one? Was she allergic to feathers, or even, as a vegetarian, opposed to their use? I would offer choice. I rounded up all the extra pillows in the house, slid each one into a crisply ironed slip, and plumped them in a row across the head of the bed.
I pulled up the wooden venetian and threw open the window. Air drifted in, smelling leafy, though you couldn't see a leaf unless you forced open the wire screen and leaned right out. She had been staying for months with her niece Iris, on the eighth floor of an art deco apartment block in Elizabeth Bay whose windows, I imagined,...
Regardless of the ending, the dynamics of giving and taking would interest anyone that has ever experienced a similar situation. As the caregiver, one may question where to draw the line between allowing the patient as much dignity as possible and stepping in when he or she no longer seems to be rational. As the patient, one may worry about burdening others. Readers that have never played either role aren't likely to be drawn to the more visceral realities of tending to the dying, but the enduring theme of friendship has every potential to override any initial hesitations about this title.
(Reviewed by Karen Rigby).
Full Review (858 words).
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 which 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 ...
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