Saturday, 6 August 2011

Gift of Time: A Family’s Diary of Cancer

When Rory MacLean’s mother, Joan, is diagnosed with a terminal cancer, he and his wife, Katrin, unhesitatingly take the ailing woman into their home in an effort to make her last remaining weeks as comfortable as possible. Each keeps a diary of their experiences, the results of which are collated into this incredibly moving book.

Told with humour, grace and searing honesty, Rory, Katrin and Joan lay bare their innermost emotions as they come to terms with this dreaded disease – to the extent that the reader sometimes feels like a voyeuristic intruder, blithely eavesdropping on their most private of thoughts.

However, the benefit of this intensely personal, warts-and-all account is that it throws into harsh relief the devastating effects of cancer on the sufferer, while also giving unique insight into often-overlooked plight of those left behind to pick up the pieces – the family, the friends and the carers. Cancer, it seems, is all-consuming - and in more ways than one.

It cannot be denied that parts of this book are uncomfortable to read – it is, after all, a chronicle of death. It forces the reader to confront the one basic truth that we spend so much time trying to ignore – the fact death is an inevitable and inescapable part of the human condition. However, despite this, the book is strangely life-affirming – in acknowledging death, it also succeeds in celebrating life … and the indomitability of the human spirit.

A truly remarkable book – Gift of Time should be essential reading for mortals everywhere.

"Gift of Time: A Family's Diary of Cancer" by Rory MacLean with Joan and Katrin MacLean is out on August 18th.
It is published by Constable, an imprint of Constable & Robinson.

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