The Spare Room by Helen Garner

This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long while. A woman dying of cancer visits her friend for three weeks while she gets treatment at a nearby clinic. Her friend is welcoming, at first, but the burden of caring for the woman, even for a short time, proves emotionally and physically too much for the friend, a fact she faces very reluctantly. The detail in this novel feels absolutely authentic and the emotions are real. The depiction of the pain for both parties is pitch perfect. The novel confronts real issues of love and commitment and never sidesteps any of them. The book is riveting and true. I really can’t say enough good things about it. This is my first encounter with Garner’s work. I will definitely seek out more of her books.

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