The Household Guide to Dying: A Novel About Life by Debra Adelaide
Delia Bennett, the narrator of the Household Guide to Dying has written a number of household guides and she’s dying (of cancer). So turning to what she knows best, she decides to write her last guide, to dying. Yes a guide to dying. Odd?
A bit. As well collecting her helpful (and sometimes odd) tips for the dying, Delia has some unfinished business from her past. Delia tells us her story in two streams, with the past catching up with the present in the final chapters. Clever ‘clips’ from Delia’s previous guides and correspondence with readers of her column add a light touch to Delia’s forthright approach to imminent demise. She also gives us a feel for what life might have been like in country Queensland towns in what I estimate is meant to be the late 90′s. I had my doubts, about the subject matter, but the cover drew me in.
The edition I read featured a charming hand-crafted embroidered heart. And as someone who’s adapted a household hint book from the US for the Australian market, I thought I might have something in common with Delia. On the other hand, like most adults in in 2013 I know many people, too many people, who are battling cancer. And like Delia, not all of them will win that fight. So might the story cut too close to the bone. With the cover of the edition I read featuring a charming hand crafted embroidered heart I decided it couldn’t be to maudlin. I took the plunge and I’m glad I did. I think you will too.
The Household Guide to Dying: A Novel About Life is a thoroughly appealing read, a strong story by a real storyteller. You will laugh while reading this book, and you’ll probably cry too. But it’s not a pity party or a faux misery memoir. It’s uplifting, amusing and heart-warming. Great for reading on a plane, train, tram or while curled up on your own sofa with a glass of wine and a cat to keep you company.