Friday, April 10, 2009

The Household Guide To Dying - A Novel Approach to Life

Delia is a mother, wife, lover of chickens and an advice columnist. She also has cancer and has been told there's nothing else that can be done for her. In her final months on this earth, she thinks about all of the years she'll miss with her family. And she can't help but wonder, will her husband be able to run the household as smoothly as she does? Who will help her daughters plan their weddings someday? She decides to write a book to help not just her family but those people who are dying and the loved ones left behind.

Debra Adelaide is the author of The Household Guide to Dying (The book is named after the book Delia creates.). Her other works include The Hotel Albatross, Serpent Dust and Acts of A Dog.

Adelaide's book begins with Delia fully understanding that her time is limited. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she takes a very practical and proactive approach. She starts to make the most of her last few months. And we learn much about her present as well as past in the process.

Delia is a very strong woman and throughout the book we learn why. We learn about her time as a young single mother starting out in a new town, her courtship with her husband, the death of her first child, her career path, her experience as a mother of two daughters as well as her time as a cancer patient. We see she's done alot of living.

I did find the book confusing at times. I've got to know exactly where and when a story takes place. I normally assume a story takes place today and the character lives in the United States unless stated otherwise. While this story takes place "today" it doesn't take place in the United States. There were alot of references that left me puzzled as to the time and place. I didn't sort it out until I read the author's bio and realized the story takes place in Australia.

For me, this confusion takes away from the story. (What's a "shandy?" And when she mentions living in a "caravan" I can't help but wonder, if she means a Dodge minivan?) The ability to bond with the main character is lost because I'm too busy wondering about the details.

But once I was over the confusion, I did develop an affection for the character. She seems like a REAL mom. She curses in front of her kids. She worries. She wonders. She's driven crazy when her daughters fight. She seems like the kind of woman I'd be friends with.

All in all, this book is not a light-hearted romp. It deals with a heavier subject. But for those people who want some substance to their story? This fits the bill.

This post was written on behalf of Mother-Talk.