The Spare Room

by Helen Garner | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 1847672655 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingcatsalivewing of Rooty Hill, New South Wales Australia on 5/26/2008
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This book is in the wild! This Book is Currently in the Wild!
8 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingcatsalivewing from Rooty Hill, New South Wales Australia on Monday, May 26, 2008
Helen lovingly prepares her spare room for her friend Nicola. She is coming to visit for three weeks, to receive treatment she believes will cure her 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 a story of compassion, humour and rage. The two women - one sceptical, one stubbornly serene - negotiate an unmapped path through Nicola's bizarre therapy, stumbling towards the novel's terrible and transcendent finale.
This is a powerful, moving and at times unexpectedly funny novel about two women and their friendship challenged by illness and the threat of death. Helen has little idea what lies ahead when she offers her spare room to an old friend of fifteen years. Nicola has arrived in the city for treatment for cancer. Sceptical of the medical establishment, placing all her faith in an alternative health centre, Nicola is determined to find her own way to deal with her illness, regardless of the advice that Helen can offer. In the weeks that follow, Nicola's battle against her cancer will turn not only her own life upside down but also those of everyone around her. The Spare Room is a magical gem of a book that packs a huge punch, charting a friendship as it is tested by the threat of death.

Journal Entry 2 by wingcatsalivewing from Rooty Hill, New South Wales Australia on Monday, May 26, 2008
Good reading but I needed something more when it ended. Quite gritty: I can imagine the anger, & how guilty Helen would have felt acknowledging that anger; But also full of love, compassion & friendship.

Journal Entry 3 by wingcatsalivewing from Rooty Hill, New South Wales Australia on Monday, June 2, 2008
Bookring instructions:
1. SIGN UP for this bookring by sending me a Private Message. Order of participants will be juggled between geography and date of request. Late additions may be added to the end of the list.
2. When the person before you on the list finishes reading the book, they will send you a Private Message for your postal address. If you are experiencing an RBC (Reading Backlog Crisis) or no longer wish to read it, let them (and me!) know and I will move/remove you down/off the list.
3. WHEN YOU RECEIVE THE BOOK please make a journal entry so everyone knows it has safely arrived.
4. WHEN YOU FINISH THE BOOK, make another journal entry telling us what you thought - did you like it? Did you think it was well-written?
5. CONTINUE THE BOOKRING by sending a Private Message to the person after you on the bookring list and request their postal address. Please check back here for the latest distribution list. If the person doesn't respond within 7-10 days (use your judgement), please PM the next person, and then me, so I can update the bookring list.

Please keep your journal entries up-to-date so we know who the book is currently with, or whether it is still in the postal system. Thank you and happy reading!

crimson-tide, WA
briz-cowgirl, QLD
fairy-whispers, QLD
sunny27, QLD
leeny37, VIC
livrecache, VIC
catsalive, NSW.

Posted to crimson-tide today, 3/6/8.
Returned to base, 9/12/8.

Journal Entry 4 by wingcrimson-tidewing from Balingup, Western Australia Australia on Monday, June 9, 2008
Quietly crept into the box today to surprise me! Thanks catsalive.

Journal Entry 5 by wingcrimson-tidewing from Balingup, Western Australia Australia on Sunday, June 15, 2008
What a brilliant book! It's called a novel, but is based on huge slabs of fact and experience. I read the transcript of Garner's Radio National interview where she talks about why she called the narrator Helen ... because she wanted to own the feelings of anger she wrote about.

The writing is tight, but still allows all the rage helplessness and frustration to burst out; as well as the compassion and love to shine through. The conflict between all these polarising emotions and the resultant 'guilt trip' would have exhausted anyone.

It's a very brave book in my opinion. A book that needed to be written (for a number of differing reasons) and a book that needs to be read.

Both members of the household have read it now, and it's off to briz-cowgirl tomorrow.
Thanks catsalive.

Journal Entry 6 by briz-cowgirl from Brisbane, Queensland Australia on Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Silly me, I thought I'd already journalled this book, my apologies.
I have finished The Spare Room, will report back once my addled thoughts are together about it.
PM'ed fairy-whispers for her address and will be posting to her shortly.
Thanks catsalive for this bookring.

ADDIT 7/7/08: I really enjoyed this book, but I couldn't help feeling somewhat cheated at the end, it seemed to finish so abruptly. Lovely writing by Helen Garner. A most thought-provoking story.
Mailed to fairy-whispers today.

Journal Entry 7 by seldombites from Mount Barker, South Australia Australia on Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Just checking in to let you know I am safe and sound. I am having a nice visit with fairy-whispers before continuing on my travels. I hope you’re having as much fun as I am!

With Great Affection,

Your Book :-)

Journal Entry 8 by seldombites from Mount Barker, South Australia Australia on Sunday, July 27, 2008
Easy to read and full of emotion, The Spare Room deals with the issues of death and friendship in a compassionate but realistic manner. The kaleidoscope of emotions one deals with when caring for and supporting a dying loved one can often be unexpected and draining, especially if that loved one has yet to accept their death. So often books romanticise or idealise terminal illness, but death and dying are seldom so pretty. The Spare Room is rollercoaster of emotion but, ultimately, paints are far more realistic (and therefore more helpful) picture of the journey that is dying.

Journal Entry 9 by seldombites at Rooty Hill, New South Wales Australia on Sunday, August 31, 2008

Released 14 yrs ago (8/28/2008 UTC) at Rooty Hill, New South Wales Australia



Panda Missed You

I’m missing you but I’m still having fun, so I’m off to visit sunny27. See you soon!

Journal Entry 10 by sunny27 from Gympie, Queensland Australia on Thursday, September 4, 2008
Arrived safe and sound - and a lovely hardcover version too. The cover feels so lovely.

Am about a chapter and a half away from finishing The Bourne Identity (what a ride!) and will be on to this immediately after.

Journal Entry 11 by sunny27 from Gympie, Queensland Australia on Thursday, September 11, 2008
Well, that was un-put-downable.

Beautifully written, with some really wonderful prose and some unforgettable moments. I also happen to be in love with Melbourne, so reading the detail of the day to day movements around the city was a little thrill.

The love and anger in this novel were palpable. I don't think that a novel written for anyone other than one amazing woman from another could have been as honest. I think that had it been about anyone else, even a spouse or a child, Helen would not have felt that same depth of anger at the situation she found herself in.

I was particularly touched by the descriptions of the small gestures Helen made to make Nicola welcome and comfortable - a flower by the bed, the colour of the sheets.

I am almost certain the the beautifully descriptive and detailed prose, and the subject matter, will inspire someone to try to make this into a film, but I hope with all my heart that they just leave it to be a glorious novel that seems to be truly Australian in every way.

Journal Entry 12 by sunny27 at Gympie, Queensland Australia on Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Released 14 yrs ago (9/22/2008 UTC) at Gympie, Queensland Australia



Sent on it's way to leeny37.
Congratulations, by the way ;).

Journal Entry 13 by leeny37 from Melbourne CBD, Victoria Australia on Sunday, September 28, 2008
Received last Friday from sunny27 but only had the chance to journal now. Thanks for the enclosed note! :)

Journal Entry 14 by leeny37 from Melbourne CBD, Victoria Australia on Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Sorry for taking longer than expected but going through a wedding and a funeral really stuffed up my routine. I actually finished this book last week but I didn't journal straight away. This was sometimes difficult to get through because I have now lost two grandparents to cancer -- one only two months ago -- and reading about Nicola's pain reminded me of my grandparents' suffering. For such an emotional topic and obviously draining time of the author's life, it was actually surprisingly easy to read (apart from my own personal struggles). I felt for Nicola who tried to brave her cancer in her own way, clinging on to each last desperate hope. However, I could also feel Helen's anger at her friend for being in such deep denial about her condition and the frustration she must have felt in trying to support her, but yet slowly eating away at her with the emotional strain. This was a very moving recount of a tough and trying time and I really admire Helen for telling this story. Thanks for sharing catsalive, I'm really glad I signed up and had the opportunity to read this. I'll pass this on to the next participant soon.

PS. Does anyone else think that Verity sounded like a real snooty bitch?!

Journal Entry 15 by leeny37 at Forest Hill, Victoria Australia on Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Released 14 yrs ago (11/26/2008 UTC) at Forest Hill, Victoria Australia



Turns out I'm the last person after all, so I'm sending this back to catsalive. Once again, thanks for sharing!

Journal Entry 16 by wingcatsalivewing from Rooty Hill, New South Wales Australia on Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Thanks for sending it home, leeny. I'm glad you all enjoyed it.

Journal Entry 17 by wingcatsalivewing from Rooty Hill, New South Wales Australia on Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I dipped into this again before passing it on. I'd forgotten the sheer rage that Helen had to keep bottled up, & the guilt she felt as a result. A very good book. I hope the next recipient enjoys it as much as we all did.

Journal Entry 18 by wingcatsalivewing at Laverton, Western Australia Australia on Friday, November 20, 2009

Released 13 yrs ago (11/19/2009 UTC) at Laverton, Western Australia Australia



Sent to lmn60, Southern Crosser December 2009.

Journal Entry 19 by winglmn60wing from Spotswood, Victoria Australia on Tuesday, December 1, 2009
What a lovely not-so-random act of BC kindness, catsalive! I'm excited to add this one to the teetering heights of Mt TBR.

Thanks so much!

And just made release notes when I hadn't journalled - bad bookcrosser! In brief - loved it - want to share it!

Journal Entry 20 by winglmn60wing at Henry and the Fox in Melbourne CBD, Victoria Australia on Sunday, June 24, 2018

Released 4 yrs ago (6/24/2018 UTC) at Henry and the Fox in Melbourne CBD, Victoria Australia


Taking to meetup - where it will either be snaffled by another bookcrosser or free to continue its journey!

To the finder of this book:
Hello and congratulations! You have not only found yourself a good book, but a whole community of booklovers dedicated to sharing books with each other and the world at large. I hope you'll stick around a bit and get to know BookCrossing --maybe even make a journal entry on this book. You may choose to remain anonymous or to join (its free!) And if you do choose to join, I hope you'll consider using me, lmn60, as your referring member. Feel free to read and keep this book, or to pass it on to a friend or even set it out "in the wild" for someone else to find like you did. If you do choose to join and journal, then you can watch the book as it travels- You'll be alerted by email each time someone makes another journal entry. It's all confidential (you're known only by your screen name and no one is ever given your e-mail address), free, and spam-free. Happy reading!

Released 4 yrs ago (11/26/2018 UTC) at Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort in Siem Reap, Siem Reap Cambodia


Will leave in the Garden Library

Journal Entry 22 by KKslibrary at Melbourne CBD, Victoria Australia on Monday, November 26, 2018
A book written with love for a friend who is dying. Helen prepares her spare room for her good friend Nicola who is dying from cancer and has come to Melbourne from Sydney to try an alternative treatment.
I understand Helen’s anger with Nicola who is in denial about her cancer and her death. I can also understand Nicola wanting to try anything to keep on living. Despite the difficult subject matter of the book, it was a quick and easy read. I will leave it here in Cambodia for another reader to enjoy.

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