Monday, February 23, 2009

The Spare Room by Helen Garner (13/81)

Helen prepares her spare room for her friend Nicola, who is flying down from Sydney for a three-week visit. But this is no ordinary visit - Nicola has advanced cancer. She is coming to Melbourne to receive treatment she believes will cure her. From the moment Nicola steps off the plane, Helen becomes her nurse, her protector, her guardian angel and her stony judge.

The Spare Room tells a story of compassion and rage as the two women - one sceptical, one stubbornly serene - negotiate their way through Nicola's gruelling treatments. Garner's dialogue is pitch perfect, her sense of pacing flawless as this novel draws to its terrible and transcendent finale.

The story and author asks, "How much of ourselves are we willing to give up to help a friend?" I found this book quite real and sometimes hard going at times not in reading it but with the subject matter. There are moments of humour throughout the book as the two woman try and deal with the illness. But then there are moments which emphasises just how hard and trying it is to watch someone you love suffer.

The book really doesn't sugar-coat how this illness effects people ... And you could completely understand the characters if you have ever cared for someone with terminal cancer ... It takes you on a ride of different of emotions ... as a carer and also as the patient ..

There is some swearing in the book but it really is just an honest story of how two woman try to cope !!

I rate this book 3***

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