16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2011
When Rory MacLean's mother, Joan, is diagnosed with a terminal cancer, he and his wife, Katrin, unhesitatingly take the ailing woman into their home in an effort to make her last remaining weeks as comfortable as possible. Each keeps a diary of their experiences, the results of which are collated into this incredibly moving book.
Told with humour, grace and searing honesty, Rory, Katrin and Joan lay bare their innermost emotions as they come to terms with this dreaded disease - to the extent that the reader sometimes feels like a voyeuristic intruder, blithely eavesdropping on their most private of thoughts.
However, the benefit of this intensely personal, warts-and-all account is that it throws into harsh relief the devastating effects of cancer on the sufferer, while also giving unique insight into often-overlooked plight of those left behind to pick up the pieces - the family, the friends and the carers. Cancer, it seems, is all-consuming - and in more ways than one.
It cannot be denied that parts of this book are uncomfortable to read - it is, after all, a chronicle of death. It forces the reader to confront the one basic truth that we spend so much time trying to ignore - the fact death is an inevitable and inescapable part of the human condition. However, despite this, the book is strangely life-affirming - in acknowledging death, it also succeeds in celebrating life ... and the indomitability of the human spirit.
A truly remarkable book -'Gift of Time' should be essential reading for mortals everywhere.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2011
Beautiful, poignant and raw in uncompromising, unapologetic honesty. I read the first 3/4 so quickly; I could not put it down, but then found it hard to carry on. I knew what must happen, but reading it would make it true. I felt I lived through this time with Rory & Katrin and while my heart broke, my soul was uplifted and I was inspired. Everyone who has lost someone will relate to this book. Anyone losing someone will find solace. It gave me a new perspective on the tragic loss of my Mother-in-Law, for once being thankful for her lack of prolonged suffering, shifting my focus away from regrets.
Amazingly honest. Beautiful! I cannot imagine a better tribute.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 27 September 2011
The diaries of Rory MacLean, his wife Katrin and mother Joan are brought together to tenderly recall the final months of Joan's life, as she lives with the end stages of cancer. She is strong and fearless, stoic as many of her generation, unwilling to be a burden to her family. Rory and Katrin's entries tell of the daily highs and lows, the moments of frustration, joy and even laughter shared by the three. I enjoyed this book very much, and found it uplifting and hopeful, proving that it is possible to have a good death, and it is possible to survive the passing of a loved one. Having the time say good-bye to someone we love is a gift indeed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2012
I downloaded a preview of this book and others to my Kindle, and it was the only one that caught my attention. The book is a compilation of three diaries, the extracts merged in date order. Once I learned to take notice of who'se diary page I was reading (big bold letters at the start of each extract!) it is very easy to read. I am half way through. I don't have the chance to read that often, each time I pick it up I have no problem remembering where I left off. Don't let the subject put you off, the book is not depressing, it is a beautiful creation.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
When his mother Joan was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Rory and his wife Katrina invited her to live with them. During this time, they all kept diaries of their time, and in Gift of Time, Rory pulls these entries together, giving a candid insight into a difficult and heartbreaking time.
The majority of entries are from Rory, as he tries to put down in words how his mother's condition affects every aspect of his life. Katrina's entries show the wonderful relationship she has with her mother-in-law, and Joan's give an insight into what remains important to her.
Yes, at times this is a difficult book to read, especially towards the end, but it's in no way a sugary, heart-string tugging account. Instead it's very raw and open, with an account of Joan's changes as the cancer takes hold. It also feels positive, in the way that everyone comes together to deal with the illness and eventual death, as well as the way they are view the world, still enjoying nature and the garden.
For readers who have experienced this for themselves, it should be a very personal decision as to when is the right time to read this. I would imagine it would be very hard if it's a recent event, but other reviewers have said they've found it helpful a few years after - knowing that others had experienced the same as them.
This book is a wonderful tribute to this family, but also to every family who have experienced similar.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2011
Gift of Time is a brave, and ultimately inspiring book.
When Rory Maclean's mother, Joan, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he decided, with his wife Katrin, that she should spend her remaining days with them in their Dorset cottage. All three kept diaries of the five months before Joan died, and it is these perspectives, these three distinctive voices, of the challenges, emotions, frustrations and even joys of a terminal illness, that Maclean cleverly blends into a revealing, engrossing and emotional book.
In the telling, the bonds of love between all three, and other relatives and friends, are made clear, and heightened by the inevitability of the final outcome.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book, this most personal of journeys by one of this country's most
acclaimed travel writers
Rob Upward. Brighton
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
When I discovered this book I purchased it hoping that it would help me face up to many of the issues that I still need to work through myself. The similarities between Rory's story and my own really touched me; his mum died 7 years ago and he notes that he is only just beginning to accept what happened. My mum died 6 years ago today, just five weeks after finding out she had cancer. Up until that point she was working full-time, was fit and healthy, walking miles every day and going on holiday twice a year. It was a terrible shock to us all and I personally still find it hard to come to terms with what happened.
Just reading the prologue of this book brought so many deeply hidden emotions to the surface. The things that Rory mentioned were uncannily similar to my own experience. He had also made a pact with his mother back when she was well. She was going to return after her death and metaphorically poke him on the shoulder - somehow she was going to tell him she was ok. But, she didn't. Neither did my mum. His description of how he felt her warmth fade away over time just kept me thinking, 'that was exactly how I felt'
It brought me such comfort to be able to read Rory's words and to be able to compare my experiences with his. Again I cried when I read that he had kept his mother's hair clippings - when someone you love is so close to death it is hard to justify throwing anything of theirs away.
The Gift of Time is a beautiful and extremely emotional book. It catalogues the personal diaries and thoughts of Rory, his wife Katrin and his mother Joan as they try to find their way through the journey that is cancer and dying.
Of course the book is sad; how could it not be? But it is so much more than that. It is a story of love, of hope, yes of death and of coming to terms with great loss. But it is also a celebration of life, love and family.
I found it inspirational and I can honestly say I feel much more at peace now having read Rory's very personal and heartfelt story.
Rory includes so many wise anecdotes throughout the book which are told to him in passing by a friend, a nurse, a relative. One that really stuck with me was 'don't ever say 'at least I did ....' life should never be 'at least'. I've spent the last 6 years saying, 'at least I did xyz with mum ....' Rory has helped me to change my thinking and decide instead to celebrate the hundreds of positive memories that I have instead of the 'at leasts'.
It must have taken a lot of courage to write such a personal and heartfelt book and I can only say 'thank you' to Rory and Katrin for sharing their experiences and for helping not only me, but I am sure plenty of others in a similar situation to start their journey of moving forward.
on 14 November 2013
This work charts the final months of the mother, Joan, of an adult family who are reluctant to allow their loved one to die in a hospice or elsewhere. The descriptions of the varying symptoms of the cancerous lesions are graphic and relentless. Joan exhibits remarkable strength of character insofar as she is fully aware of her diagnosis and prognosis, yet manages to live to her utmost ability while 'tidying up' her affairs and sorting through a lifetime collection of photographs and other memorabilia.
Rory, her principal carer, performs many of the functions normally assigned to the various care workers who come and go during the day. Rory is loving and caring to the point that he never expresses frustration or tiredness but he is aided by his most generous wife, Katrin who genuinely loves her mother-in-law and wants her to live with Rory and herself in her final days. The writing is beautiful throughout. If there is a 'fault' it lies in the absence of any suggestions of anger, despondency or other human responses commonly encountered around the imminent loss of life. The family members are quite perfect, but then perhaps this is how many carers really are.
What is beautifully conveyed are Joan's vastly fluctuating feelings of hope and acceptance in the face of inevitable death.
on 30 January 2015
Absolutely brilliant portrayal of caring for a loved one with cancer.
Would recommend this book to anyone that has experienced the feeling of helplessness and has come out the other side.
on 14 January 2014
This book was absolutely beautiful i couldn't put it down and as i nursed my husband when he was dying of cancer at times it hurt to read it but it was so beautifully written it made me sob.