One True Thing, Paperback Book
4.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Ellen Gulden is a successful, young New York journalist.

But when her mother, Kate, is diagnosed with cancer, she leaves her life in the city to return home and care for her.

In the short time they have left, the relationship between mother and daughter - tender, awkward and revealing - deepens, and Ellen is forced to confront painful truths about her adored father.

But in the weeks that follow Kate's death, events take a shocking and unexpected turn.

Family emotions are laid bare as a new drama is played out, and overnight Ellen goes from devoted daughter to prime suspect, accused of the mercy killing of her 'one true thing'.

One True Thing is the devastating story of a mother and daughter, of love and loss, and of shattering choices.


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Ellie Gulden had a fairly normal life. The very gifted and successful daughter of an English professor and a dutiful housewife, she and her two brothers wanted for very little, other than more attention from their constantly occupied father and always busy mother. Their home is a welcoming place filled with their mother Kate’s craftwork and the smells of her wonderful cooking and baking.As a stark contrast we are introduced to Ellie as she is in jail, accused of killing her mother who had terminal cancer.When Kate was diagnosed, and it became clear that she did not have long to live, Ellie’s father George requests that she leave her successful career in the city, her flat and her boyfriend to move herself back home to care for her mother. It is delivered as a “fait accompli” and leaves Ellie with little choice, even though she has never had a great relationship with her mother. She wonders how she will cope.However, during the next five months, Ellie and Kate form a relationship they never thought possible. The pair start a two woman club called the Gulden Girls’ Book and Cook Club and rediscover old classic books which enable Kate to tell Ellie the things she never told her growing up. The charismatic George, on the other hand, seems to do everything he can to avoid helping his wife, believing that this should be done by a woman. Ellie struggles to understand why he is so distant and believes him to have been frequently unfaithful to his wife. As if Kate did not know?As Kate’s health worsens, so Ellie becomes closer to her and when the end does come, Ellie suspects that George has overdosed her mother’s morphine. But it is Ellie who is arrested and we are left in disbelief as she “covers” for her father. This novel is profoundly sad and uncompromising. It deals with illness and death, love and loss in devastating detail. I found it compelling and deeply emotional. It is a story I will not forget easily.“Death is so strange, so mysterious, so sad, that we want to blame someone for it. And it was easy to blame me.”This book was made available to me, prior to publication, for an honest review.

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