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The Spare Room

by Helen Garner

Part of the Canons Series

Modern and Contemporary Fiction Debut Books of the Month eBooks of the Month Literary Fiction

LoveReading Expert Review of The Spare Room

This is a strange book about death for the narrator, the carer, somehow demands your sympathy more than the poor dying cancer sufferer, Nicola.  She stays in her friend’s spare room while undergoing alternative therapy that she believes will cure her.  We can all see that it won’t, but should you take hope away from a cancer victim?  A difficult question that is cruelly explored here in a wise narrative.

Comparison: Maggie O’Farrell, Zoë Heller, Alice Sebold.


Sarah Broadhurst

The Spare Room Synopsis

When Helen offers her spare room to her old friend Nicola, she has little idea of what lies ahead. Nicola has cancer and, sceptical of the medical establishment, is in the city for a course of alternative treatment. She is determined to deal with her illness in her own way, regardless of the advice that Helen can offer. In the weeks that follow, Nicola's fight against cancer will turn not only her own life upside down but the lives of everyone around her. Told with humour and honesty, this unforgettable novel charts a friendship as it is tested in the face of death.

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781786896087
Publication date: 5th September 2019
Author: Helen Garner
Publisher: Canongate Canons an imprint of Canongate Books Ltd
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 208 pages
Primary Genre Modern and Contemporary Fiction

What To Read After The Spare Room

The Almost Moon
Last Letter Home The Richard and Judy Book Club pick 2018
Chronicle in Stone
Mary Swann

Helen Garner Press Reviews

'This novel's extraordinary feat is to be at once affecting, involving and sharply funny.' The Sunday Times

'Garner is a storyteller, an observer...Her style is beautifully simple...People who are on a fixed diet of fiction or who graze on airport shelves could cleanse their palates with Garner as they might once have done with Jane Austen.' Sydney Morning Herald

'A piece of fiction at once artful, gripping and fiercly beautiful . . . even at the most painful moments Garner maintains a characteristic lightness of touch, a combination of wit and lyricism that is immensely alluring . . . [An] extraordinary, exhilarating novel . . a burningly passionate account of the one experience we all will share - the journey out of life.' Olivia Laing, Observer

'Garner is known for her frankness, her distinctive blend of tender affection and brutal truth-telling . . . [The Spare Room] is a powerful piece of work . . . Garner has insights aplenty.'
Michel Faber, Guardian Review

'It's a book which asks unavoidable and painful questions, not least about the nature of friendship, with a clarity that offers no room for evasion. It refuses to offer easy answers or false comfort. A book for grown-up people, in other words. And the Lord knows, there are a lot of the other sort about.' Hilary Mantel

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781786896087
Publication date: 05/09/2019
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781847672674
Publication date: 07/05/2009
Format: Paperback

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About Helen Garner

Born in 1942, Helen Garner lives in Australia. She has written both fiction and non-fiction, and also journalism, and her writing has been nominated for and won many awards. This is her first novel for fifteen years.

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