The Spare Room

The Spare Room

3.82 (6,270 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
By (author) 

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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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 144 x 224 x 20mm | 339g
  • Edinburgh, United Kingdom
  • Main
  • 1847672655
  • 9781847672650
  • 426,668

Review quote

The Spare Room is a perfect novel, imbued with all Garner's usual clear-eyed grace but with some other magnificent dimension that hides between the lines of her simple conversational voice. How is it that she can enter this heart-breaking territory - the dying friend who comes to stay - and make it not only bearable, but glorious, and funny? There is no answer except: Helen Garner is a great writer; The Spare Room is a great book. -- Peter Carey Garner is a storyteller, an observer...Her style is beautifully simple...People who are on a fixed diet of fiction or who graze on airport shelves could cleanse their palates with Garner as they might once have done with Jane Austen. * * Sydney Morning Herald * * Helen Garner writes the best sentences in Australia. * * The Bulletin * * Garner, in everything she writes, is an indelible stylist, a shaper of events, a distiller of meaning * * ABR * * Acutely pleasurable, acutely painful -- Fay Weldon Outstandingly vivid. * * Sunday Times * * Garner is known for her frankness, her distinctive blend of tender affection and brutal truth-telling . . . [The Spare Room] is a powerful piece of work . . . Garner has insights aplenty. -- Michel Faber * * Guardian Review * * The false hope peddled by the Theodore Insitute and others like it is a fair target, which Garner's novel hits unerringly . . . [Garner] is a careful and considerate observer . . . things, people and conversations are described briefly and with simplicity but . . . are placed with an insight that can be devastating. -- Caroline Miller * * TLS * * A piece of fiction at once artful, gripping and fiercly beautiful . . . even at the most painful moments Garner maintains a characteristic lightness of touch, a combination of wit and lyricism that is immensely alluring . . . [An] extraordinary, exhilarating novel . . . a burningly passionate account of the one experience we all will share - the journey out of life. -- Olivia Laing * * Observer * * Its embattled characters are so real that by the last page you feel not just that you have read a magnificent novel but that you have experienced life itself. * * The Times * * Garner skillfully builds the tension in this short tale; her prose is adept her characters well-developed...The is a raw, spare tale, very human and very direct. -- Claudia Vilato * * Mslexia * * This novel's extraordinary feat is to be at once affecting, involving and sharply funny. * * The Sunday Times * *
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About Helen Garner

Born in 1942, Helen Garner lives in Australia. She has written both fiction and non-fiction, and also journalism, and her writing has been nominated for and won many awards. This is her first novel for fifteen years.
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Rating details

6,270 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 24% (1,524)
4 42% (2,652)
3 26% (1,625)
2 6% (374)
1 2% (95)

Our customer reviews

This is very well written and I have always found Garner's work of the highest quality. The prose is spare with never a wasted word but the author tends to give the impression that she has a rather bleak view of life. From the onset of this novel we know that Nola's situation fighting a terminal illness is one that offers little hope. However you would like that something positive might emerge for Helen apart from her obvious relief when Nola returned to Sydney. A worthwhile read on the topic of death and the care of the more
by Jennifer Snell
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