The Spare Room by Helen Garner

The Spare Room

Helen Garner

When Nicola comes to stay Helen knows that her friend is dying but she doesn't know that Nicola is clinging to false hope offered by dangerous alternative therapies. What follows is a heartbreaking yet honest account of their journey towards the truth. The revelation of both the strength and the fragility of human spirit and friendship in the face of mortality make this story at times uplifting and even hopeful despite its bleak subject matter.

Extract

That evening she came home from the clinic in high spirits, and reported that she had been seen by a new bloke: 'he was a real doctor'. 'How could you tell?’ 'Oh,' she said, 'just by looking. He said that the increased pain is definitely being caused by the treatments jazzing the cancer up.’ I listened, and nodded, and smiled because she was pleased. But I wondered what he has really said to her, and in what language, for jazzing up sounded like one of her own expressions, drawn from the same posh, old-fashioned lexicon as carry on, crash hot, my divine niece and some mad little hotel in South Yarra.

Parallels
  • Before I Die by Jenny Downham
  • Before I Say Goodbye by Ruth Picardie