The Household Guide to Dying by Debra Adelaide

Published 2008 by Pan MacMillan Australia

ISBN 0330424254 (ISBN 13: 9780330424257)

The Household Guide to DyingThe Household Guide to Dying is a moving, witty, and uplifting novel about Delia, who writes an acerbic and wildly popular household advice column. 

When Delia realizes that she is losing her long battle with cancer, she decides to organize her remaining months – and her husband and children’s future lives without her – the same way she has always ordered their household.

Unlike the many faithful readers of her advice column – people who are rendered lost and confused when faced with dirty shirt collars – Delia knows just what to do. She will leave a list for her daughter’s future wedding; fill the freezer with homemade sausages, stews, and sauces; and even (maddeningly) offer her husband suggestions for a new wife. She’ll compile a lifetime’s worth of advice for her children, and she’ll even write the ultimate “Household Guide to Dying” for her fans.

There is one item on her list, however, that proves too much even for “Dear Delia,” and it is the single greatest task she had set for herself. Yet just as Delia is coming to terms with this, an unexpected visitor helps her believe in her life’s worth in a way that no list ever could.

An interesting concept for a story, and it took me a while to get into the story.  With lots of reflection on events from the past, as well as visiting places from the past, this story flicked backwards and forwards through Delia’s life as she tries to straighten out the past.

Delia is dying, and she knows it.   It is the last opportunity she has to put ghosts to rest and still write about her experiences, you see, Delia is the bestselling writer of the ‘Household Guide to…” series.

Her publisher is horrified when she brings the idea to her of writing a book about Dying.  Hoping to engage those who are on death’s door and those who are left behind, she tells of her own experiences, from buying a coffin to cooking food in advance, including a gross section of cooking part of herself for her family.

Based in Australia, this work of art is a stunning and frank read, focusing on Delia’s last few months before she passes away.  A wonderfully crafted book, weaving Delia’s past and present together and creating a future for her family.

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