Helen lovingly prepares her spare room for her friend Nicola. She is coming to visit for three weeks, to receive treatment she believes will cure her cancer.
From the moment Nicola staggers off the plane, gaunt and hoarse but still somehow grand, Helen becomes her nurse, her guardian angel and her stony judge.
The Spare Room tells a story of compassion, humour and rage. The two women—one sceptical, one stubbornly serene—negotiate an unmapped path through Nicola’s bizarre therapy, stumbling towards the novel’s terrible and transcendent finale.
Praise for The Spare Room:
‘It’s a book which asks unavoidable and painful questions, not least about the nature of friendship, with a clarity that offers no room for evasion. It refuses to offer easy answers or false comfort. A book for grown-up people, in other words. And the Lord knows, there are a lot of the other sort about.'
— Hilary Mantel
‘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
‘The Spare Room : Garner’s first novel in fifteen years, a lean claustrophobic drama about a cancer sufferer and the friend she calls on for help, illuminates the big questions of what it means to be human, and makes me glad I am a reader.’
— Australian Literary Review
About the Author
Helen Garner was born in Geelong in 1942. She has worked extensively as a journalist, reviewer and scriptwriter. She has published numerous works of fiction, non-fiction and short-stories. The Spare Room is her first work of fiction in fifteen years.
`Garner's gradual awakening to her unadmitted anger is what gives her best book, her novel The Spare Room, much of its shattering power...The novel closes: "It was the end of my watch, and I handed her over." Helen has done as much as she can do. It is a typical Garner sentence, a writing lesson (all novels should end as completely) and a life lesson: spare, deserved, and complexly truthful, both a confession of failure and a small song of success.' -- James Wood * New Yorker *