The Household Guide to Dying, Hardback Book
3.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


A brilliantly moving and darkly comic novel, which charts the attempts of dying heroine Delia -- a modern day Mrs Beeton -- to prepare her family for the future and lay to rest a ghost from her past. Inspired by her heroine, Isabella Beeton, Delia has made a living writing a series of hugely successful modern household guides, as well as an acerbic domestic advice column.

As the book opens, she is not yet forty, but has only a short time to live. She is preoccupied with how to prepare herself and her family for death, from writing exhaustive lists to teaching her young daughters how to make a perfect cup of tea.

What she needs, more than anything, is a manual -- exactly the kind she is the expert at writing.

Realising this could be her greatest achievement (for who could be better equipped to write The Household Guide to Dying?) she sets to work.

But, in the writing, Delia is forced to confront the ghosts of her past, and the events of fourteen years previously.

There is a journey she needs to make, back to the landscape of her past, and one last vital thing she needs to do.Hugely original, life affirming and humorous, The Household Guide to Dying illuminates love, loss, family and the place we call home.


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Review by

I was particularly intrigued by the novelty of this premise and its juxtapositions – a woman dying of cancer who has written a whole series of ‘household guides’ on the various domestic arts decides to write as her swan song a book on how to handle death and dying. We read about the events of three different times of her life, and the domestic advice she offers the readers of her column, as she approaches the end of her life. A worthwhile but not always enjoyable read - poignant and heart-wrenching, challenging and confronting in turn, as is perhaps inevitable given the subject matter.

Review by

quirky, humorous and heartbreaking in equal measure, interwoven household hints and mystery story, recommended