“How much can one friend be asked to give another? The Spare Room is a moving, powerful, and even funny story of two woman whose friendship is tested by cancer and an inability to let go of what was.”
— Aly Valentine, Harrison Street Books, Easton, MD
A powerful, witty, and taut novel about a complex friendship between two women—one dying, the other called to care for her—from an internationally acclaimed and award-winning author
How much of ourselves must we give up to help a friend in need? Helen has little idea what lies ahead—and what strength she must muster—when she offers her spare room to an old friend, Nicola, who has arrived in the city for cancer treatment. Skeptical of the medical establishment, and placing all her faith in an alternative health center, Nicola is determined to find her own way to deal with her illness, regardless of the advice Helen offers.
In the weeks that follow, Nicola’s battle for survival 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—gripping, moving, and unexpectedly funny—that packs a huge punch, charting a friendship as it is tested by the threat of death.
Helen Garner was born in Geelong, Australia, in 1942. Her award-winning books include novels, stories, screenplays, and works of nonfiction, including Monkey Grip, The First Stone, and Joe Cinque’s Consolation. The Spare Room is her first work of fiction in fifteen years. She lives in Australia.
“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
“I very much admire The Spare Room. It’s cleanly-written, sharp, with the authority of lived experience but an artist’s penetration of the issues. It provides a portrait very hard to erase, of a child’s ego trapped in a failing and ageing body, and it raises uncomfortable questions: what are the limits of friendship? Who will care for a generation that thought it would never get old?”—Hilary Mantel, author of Beyond Black and Giving Up the Ghost
"Swift, beautiful, and relentless, The Spare Room is a brutal novel in the best sense."—Alice Sebold