I bought this beautiful, small book at The Riverbend Bookstore on Oxford Street at Bulimba, Brisbane, last year. Once I got my nose into it every day in my backyard, I didn't leave it. Helen Garner is one author I had never read until now; and I should have picked up her work sooner. The book is about a woman, Helen, who cares for her dear friend Nicole who has come to visit her in Melbourne while she's receiving treatment for cancer.
During her stay, Nicole tries out strange and unusual treatments, goes to alternative doctors; and Helen is there to help her the whole time. Helen and Nicole have funny times and become closer as the time comes where something must be done about Nicole and her condition.
This is a brilliantly written book that doesn't dance around the subject, doesn't sugar-coat anything and has some beautiful imagery between its pages as well. I may have read this only last year, it feels as though I've only just put it down.
Helen Garner's writing has been described as demanding and quintessentially Australian. She was born in Geelong and has written many non-fiction books; however 'The Spare Room' is her first fiction novel in around fifteen years. Other novels she's had published are 'Postcards From Surfers', 'Monkey Grip' and 'The Children's Bach'.