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Gift of Time: A Family's Diary of Cancer

Rory MacLean

7 Reviews

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Biography: general, Prose: non-fiction

An heartbreakingly honest and deeply moving memoir in the words of the son, his wife and his mother of her battle with cancer, from one of the UK's best loved travel writers.

When his mother Joan was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Rory MacLean and his wife Katrin took her into their home. For five months, as their life fragmented and turned inward, they fought both to resist and to accept the inevitable. Each gave vent to their emotions in different ways, but all three kept a diary.

Heartbreakingly honest and deeply moving, Gift of Time is the story of those days, in the words of a son, his wife and his mother. Woven together into a poignant meditation on life and death, they illuminate the courage and dignity of one woman who confronted what we all must face. Threaded through with wisdom and guilt, anger and acceptance, the story is punctuated by a family wedding and the hope of new life, by bin-bags of old letters and books rediscovered, by the end of winter and the first signs of spring.

Powerful, raw and urgent, this slender volume is above all a celebration of life. Capturing every moment of beauty and pain it acknowledges that what survives all of us is love.

Praise for Rory MacLean's previous titles:

Stalin's Nose: 'The most extraordinary debut in travel writing since In Patagonia. A dark, sardonic and brilliant book which grows in stature with every page' William Dalrymple

'A surreal masterpiece' Colin Thubron

The Oatmeal Ark: 'One of the most original and innovative travel books for years.' Alexander Frater

'A truly astonishing performance' Jan Morris

'Such a book as this rather marvellously explains why literature still lives.' John Fowles

Under the Dragon: 'I cannot imagine a better book on the beauty and terror of Burma. Read it. Read it. Read it.' Fergal Keane

'It will make you cry and it will give you hope. ... It is astonishingly good.' Jeanette Winterson.

Magic Bus: 'A disturbing, gripping and intensely passionate story' Esther Freud.

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Praise for Gift of Time: A Family's Diary of Cancer

  • Rory Maclean is one of the most strikingly original and talented travel writers of his generation. - Katie Hickman

  • Poignant. - The Bookseller

  • Moving... Not all memoirs of death go as gently or acceptingly into this good night. - Catholic Herald

  • A moving, exceptional book and highly recommended. - The Tablet

  • Both heartbreaking and, oddly, life-enhancing. - Financial Times

  • Poignant and moving. - Choice

  • Brave. - Daily Telegraph

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Rory MacLean

Rory MacLean has known three Berlins: West Berlin, where he made movies with David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich; East Berlin, where he researched his first best seller STALIN'S NOSE; and the unified capital where he lives and works today. His nine books have challenged and invigorated creative non-fiction writing, and - according to the late John Fowles - are among works that 'marvellously explain why literature still lives'. He has won awards from the Canada Council and the Arts Council of England as well as a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, and was nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary prize. He has also written and presented over 50 BBC radio programmes and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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