Dear Life

Dear Life : A Doctor's Story of Love and Loss

4.75 (12 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
By (author) 

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'What a remarkable book this is; tender, funny, brave, heartfelt, radiant with love and life. It brought me often to laughter and - several times - to tears. It sings with joy and kindness' Robert Macfarlane

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of Your Life in My Hands comes this vibrant, tender and deeply personal memoir that finds light and love in the darkest of places.

As a specialist in palliative medicine, Dr Rachel Clarke chooses to inhabit a place many people would find too tragic to contemplate. Every day she tries to bring care and comfort to those reaching the end of their lives and to help make dying more bearable.

Rachel's training was put to the test in 2017 when her beloved GP father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She learned that nothing - even the best palliative care - can sugar-coat the pain of losing someone you love.

And yet, she argues, in a hospice there is more of what matters in life - more love, more strength, more kindness, more joy, more tenderness, more grace, more compassion - than you could ever imagine. For if there is a difference between people who know they are dying and the rest of us, it is simply this: that the terminally ill know their time is running out, while we live as though we have all the time in the world.

Dear Life is a book about the vital importance of human connection, by the doctor we would all want by our sides at a time of crisis. It is a love letter - to a father, to a profession, to life itself.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 162 x 236 x 32mm | 580g
  • Little, Brown
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 1408712520
  • 9781408712528
  • 22,185

Review quote

A tender meditation on how people confront their final days . . . Clarke is unerringly good at telling
stories and Dear Life is full of them . . . kind, unironic and emotionally invested . . . the passages in her book that made me want to weep were not the ones about dying, but the ones about living, loving, learning how to say goodbye * Observer * [A] moving book. Her intention is not to be maudlin or sensationalist. Rather, what she wants us to grasp is that we have nothing to fear about reaching the end of our lives * Mail on Sunday * Rachel Clarke's heart-rending account beautifully mixes her memories of caring for the dying with those of her father's terminal cancer . . . she's the kind of doctor we would all want as we face our last days. And
she's sure as hell a writer. There is a tender, lyrical beauty to the prose that adds to the emotional punch * Sunday Times * Though a new medical memoir seems to come along every five minutes just now, this one is special. Clarke . . . has written a book, beautiful and blessedly un-mawkish, about her experiences. Among its pages are true horrors for those involved, but also a numinous beauty. Her words are brimful of love, grace and kindness -- Alex Preston * Guardian * Clarke writes so movingly about what it means to face death, the grief that gets left behind and how hospices do such vital work in allowing people to die being looked after and surrounded by the people they love * Stylist * Rachel Clarke should be essential reading for all of us. A few years ago she wrote Your Life in My Hands, an account of her time as a junior doctor. Now she has written an even better book . . . It is in part a love letter both to her father, whose life and death she describes with great tenderness and unflinching directness, and her patients, but it is also a touching and profound meditation on what it means to be human . . . It is a remarkable book -- John Crace * Guardian * Dear Life names the tension between love and risk that gives life its sweetness. It takes readers to the edge of life in supportive, wise company -- Kathryn Mannix What a remarkable book this is; tender, funny, brave, heartfelt, radiant with love and life, and with the love of life. It brought me often to laughter and - several times - to tears -- Robert Macfarlane Dying is rarely easy, nor is writing about it - but Rachel Clarke does so perfectly, with neither sentimentality nor sensationalism, and instead with realism and kindness. This is a truly wonderful book. Read it * Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm * A truly beautiful book about death and life and the price of love. Told by a doctor, with compassion and wisdom. I cried, but they were warm, comforting tears. It made me think about stuff I fear in a new and better way -- Matt Haig Moving, thought-provoking and so very important. I'm immeasurably grateful to have read it, and it will stay with me. In death, we learn about life -- Nigella Lawson This is a wonderful book. Rachel takes the worst life can throw at us and shows us the beauty in it, and the very best of human nature * Adam Kay, author of This is Going to Hurt *
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About Rachel Clarke

Rachel Clarke is a current NHS doctor and former television journalist who cares passionately about standing up for her patients and the NHS. She originally read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University before making current affairs documentaries about subjects as diverse as the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Al Qaeda and the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She retrained as a doctor in her late twenties, graduating in 2009.

She now works in palliative medicine, believing that helping patients at the end of life experience the best quality life possible is priceless.

Rachel lives in Oxford with her husband and two children.
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Rating details

12 ratings
4.75 out of 5 stars
5 83% (10)
4 8% (1)
3 8% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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