The Household Guide to Dying by Debra Adelaide

Published in 2008 by Pan Macmillan Australia

380 pages

2 out of 5 stars

I did not enjoy this book. I tried to read it multiple times and found myself unable to make any head way with it until the past weekend when I sat myself down and forced myself to read it, as after all it was the book chosen for book club and I had to read it.

From the very moment I saw what we would be reading, I had issues with this book. Let me start by saying I’m a very emotional person, and I cry a lot when reading a book. So when presented with a book titled The Household Guide to Dying I knew I was in trouble. I don’t think it helped that I’ve lost friends at a young age to cancer, and so many family members in such a short space of time that I am utterly afraid of the word. It terrifies me. And yet I’ve read so many books based around it, that although I may cry like a baby, it’s never affected me this bad.

This book haunted my sleep and not in a good way, it got under my skin and played havoc with my head. I didn’t like the protagonist. At all. In fact, I felt for family the whole way through the novel. I cried for them. Not so much because Delia was dying, but because those poor girls were losing their mother, and Achie was watching the love of his life die a slow death. In fact, I’m not so sure the characters in this book are very strong. Maybe it was because of my past, and even the present, but while reading I replaced each character with someone that I knew or had know in that situation and it broke my heart.

In terms of the style and the way the book was written I was confused. Too much was withheld for too long. The first part of the book where the author is meant to grip their reader and make them want to read more faster, just wasn’t there. I was bored. It seemed kind of pointless. Honestly until around the last hundred to one-hundred-and-fifty pages of the book I was willing to give it one star. I did not enjoy it. But for some reason, Adelaide started to win me over slightly in the final pages of the book and I can’t work out why unless it was due to sympathy. Delia was dying and she was losing everything and you have to be pretty heartless not to feel for there, and I did feel for her, but I didn’t like her.

What I will say however, is that in the end I wanted to give this book 2.5 stars. Because although I didn’t like its set up, or its characters necessarily there were moments in the book when I had to pause and think wow. Sometimes it was because I’d never thought much about the comments and subjects raised before, other times because the way Debra Adelaide explained something was simply too beautiful, but in words, imagery and meaning. However, I physically felt sick when she made the blood sausage and had to fight the urge not to vomit. That scene was nasty!

Maybe after I’ve had some time to think about this book, and current situations and personal resemblances have gone one way or another, then maybe the book will get a higher rating. But given my experience reading it, and the strong desire not to read it, I don’t think it will be too likely.

This review originally appeared on Goodreads on September 24, 2012 and can be found here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/421028431

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