“The Spare Room” by Helen Garner

The spare room by Helen Garner

I thought for a while about la premiere post and what book I should do first. In a list of many greats, which is the greatest? Does this first post mean that it is the book I deem most worth reading and recommend above all others? To avoid that particular conundrum, I decided to report on a little gem that I read yesterday in one sitting, it is still fresh in my mind, is definitely worth reading and entirely recommendable. So onto today’s dish.

What’s it about?

A woman who has a terminally ill friend visit her for three weeks while she seeks an alternative medical treatment. Sounds dry, and I usually avoid books on such sad and realistic subject matter but this was a treat. Cue a tense period filled with love, life , rage and tolerance (or lack there of).

Worth reading because:

It’s a page turner, I read it yesterday while sick in bed and it only took about 3 hours. The characters feel real and the story feels almost biographical, which is probably because the author based it upon her real life experiences. It is sweet and funny and sad and it made me feel something. I like the author’s Australianness and her unabashed use of local references in Melbourne and Sydney.

Other books by this author worth reading?

The only other Helen Garner that I have read is Monkey Grip, which was ok. I haven’t read Joe Cinque’s Consolation but I have heard good things and it’s on my rather long “want to read” list.

Choice Cuts:

The station was a seven minute walk from my house, twenty if you had cancer.

Death will not be denied. To try is grandiose. It drives madness into the soul. It leaches out virtue. It injects poison into friendship, and makes a mockery of love.

… if I did not get Nicola out of my house tomorrow I would slide into a lime-pit of rage that would scorch the flesh off me, leaving nothing but a strew of pale bones on a landscape of sand.


Have you read The Spare Room by Helen Garner? If so, what did you think?


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