The Spare Room

The Spare Room

Book - 2009
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Winner of several prestigious prizes, The Spare Room is extraordinary writer Helen Garner's intense, moving investigation of the boundaries and limits of a lifelong friendship.As the novel opens, Helen lovingly prepares the spare room in her home for her dear friend Nicola, who is coming to visit for three weeks while receiving controversial treatment for late-stage cancer. From the moment Nicola staggers off the plane, gaunt and hoarse but still somehow grand, Helen becomes her nurse, her guardian angel, and her stony judge. The Spare Room tells an unforgettable story full of complex humour, rage, and compassion.

Publisher: Toronto : House of Anansi, 2009.
ISBN: 9780887842245
Characteristics: 195 p. ;,22 cm.


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Oct 23, 2016

Caring for a sick friend and their relationship - compassionate and cross, but mostly cross.

Dec 16, 2015

Although this was a quick read, I found it to be quite thought-provoking. Helen is asked to lend her spare room for three weeks to her flamboyant friend Nicola who will be taking some very unorthodox alternative treatments for her cancer, which is very advanced. We expect the three weeks to be somewhat congenial, but Nicola is in full denial of her terminal state and just steamrolls over any hint of the 'treatments' not working. Helen discovers she must be a nursemaid spending every night changing soiled sheets and comforting Nicola. There is a great deal of anger and frustration here. Friendship is a wonderful thing and Nicola should be grateful, but she seems to accept all help as her due. I thought Helen might actually crack under the pressure but she didn't. How would I react in that situation? Who knows.

Mar 13, 2012

A very depressing story. This was my book group story for this month, which is the only reason I read this.Having said all that, I think this would of been a hard subject to write about. The cancer patient in this story had a very positive attitude, but I thought it was a bit much to expect family and friends to automatically jump into action, because it was assumed they were as brave, or agreed on the treatment that was being done.

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