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Late Fragments Everything I Want to Tell You (About This Magnificent Life) by Kate Gross

Late Fragments Everything I Want to Tell You (About This Magnificent Life)

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Sue Baker's view...

Diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer as a young woman, Kate Gross was destined never to see her children grow and mature, leave behind a much loved husband and lose all the possibilities that life and work can bring. She began to write for herself but her writing turned into an exploration of this new person she had become, how a terminal diagnosis can take away but also give knowledge that life is so precious and that we can achieve joy amongst the tragedy. Aged just 36, Kate Gross died on Christmas Day 2014.

February 2015 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.

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Late Fragments Everything I Want to Tell You (About This Magnificent Life) by Kate Gross

Kate Gross was a woman who 'leaned in' until cancer stopped her in her tracks. Now terminal, this brave, frank and heartbreaking book shows what it means to die before your time, and how to fill your life with wonder, hope and joy even in the face of tragedy. Ambitious and talented, Kate Gross worked in Number 10 for two British Prime Ministers whilst only in her twenties. By the time she was thirty, she was CEO of a charity working with fragile new democracies in post-conflict Africa. She had met and married 'the best looking man I've ever kissed' - and gave birth to twin boys in 2008. The future was bright. Until...Aged 34, Kate was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. Whilst she had been busy leaning in, inside her a lump of cells had broken free of the rules and spawned a tumour, had crept into her lymph nodes and colonised her liver. Now terminal, it is clear that she will die before her children finish primary school and probably before they reach the grand old age of 6, which they think is impossibly grown up, and she thinks is impossibly young. She began to write as a gift to herself, a reminder that she could create even as her body tried to self-destruct. The result is this frank, brave, funny and profoundly wise book. Written for those she loves, it is not an average cancer memoir, filled with medical jargon and misery. Instead, it is Kate's powerful attempt to make sense of the woman who has emerged in this strange, lucid final chunk of life. It is a book about how to live. On the wonder to be found in the everyday, the importance of friendship and love, the role of work in our lives, relationships with children and parents when both are facing a future without a mother or daughter. And how to behave around the sick - who don't necessarily want to stop having fun just because they are dying. Every page is infused with her deep love of literature and her determination to live fully, even as she faces her own demise. Kate should have been granted decades to say all that she says in these pages. Denied the chance to bore her children and grandchildren with life stories when she is fat and old, she offers us all this wise, funny and heart-wrenching book.


'A brave voice sings out of these pages ... Gross produced a fine epitaph for a life well lived, and one that ended too soon'
The Times

'A gem - a wonderful, uplifting reflection on how to die and how to live... There is nothing tragic about its message which is a happy one, full of life's possibilities not its limitations. The lesson is that it is not the longevity of your life but the intensity of it which counts; that what you give lasts longer than what you take; and that if you contribute, even to the smallest degree to the betterment of humankind then you will not be a memory but a living and moving spirit that even after death can change the world around you. Such a spirit is Kate'
Tony Blair

'Kate Gross writes with steadfast, exquisite skill and although this remarkable book is hard to get through without a box of hankies, it is also one of the most galvanising you are likely to read all year. She wanted to pass on the gift of wonder to her sons; her gift to her reader is to inspire them to live life with as much joy, hunger and gusto as she did'

About the Author

Kate Gross

In 36 years Kate Gross achieved more than most. Eventually though, the cancer which she fought so bravely took her on Christmas Day morning in 2014. She lived in Cambridge with her husband Billy and their twin sons Isaac and Oscar. Before her cancer, Kate read English at Oxford University. She joined the civil service and worked in Number 10 Downing Street for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. On leaving, she set up the Africa Governance Initiative, a charity which works to rebuild structures of Government in post-conflict Africa. She was awarded an OBE in 2014 for her work. She blogged regularly - - about her illness and the Last Post is from Kate's mother. Kate wrote there in more medical detail than she has done in her book - Late Fragments - which is almost entirely free of any medical jargon or writing on the nature of cancer. It is a book instead about life.

Author photo © John Lawrence

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Book Info

Publication date

5th January 2015


Kate Gross

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William Collins an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers




Biography / Autobiography
The Real World
eBook Favourites



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