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The Household Guide to Dying [Audio Cassette]

Debra Adelaide
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover CDN $20.16  
Paperback CDN $13.14  
MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged CDN $13.13  
Audio, Cassette, Feb. 13 2009 --  
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Book Description

Feb. 13 2009
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.
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Product Details

Product Description


'Adelaide's moving novel captures both the hope and sadness of Delia's plight.' Daily Mail 'Darkly comic novel with a tone that is Desperate Housewives meets Six Feet Under!this is caustic and hilarious, as well as heart-warming. A clever read that stays with you for a long time.' Red 'A novel about loving and grieving!filled with humour, warmth and sadness -- just like life.' Good Reading 'Debra Adelaide has created one of the most irrepressible and beguiling heroines!I finished the book in tears. Adelaide captures [the leaving behind] with an intensity that constantly slides into comedy, the kind in which laughter segues into crying!sublime on the battles with crumbs, washing up, and the laundry basket. In a class of its own.' Sydney Morning Herald 'Deliciously maverick...dazzlingly original. This vibrant, original novel keeps a steady focus on dying and the ways in which it shapes and hones the living.' The Age --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Debra Adelaide is the author of two novels which were published in Australia and four themed collections of fiction and memoirs. She has worked as a researcher, editor and book reviewer, and has a PhD from the University of Sydney. She is now a senior lecturer in creative writing at the University of Technology, Sydney. She has three children and several chickens. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

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3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed emotions July 15 2012
Delia's dying of cancer and wants to get her house in order - literally and figuratively - before she dies. She's a successful advice columnist and author of household guides, married to a gardener/landscaper and mother to two young daughters. The story is rooted in her early life as a teenaged-single parent and events that unfolded back then that haunt her still. Found some of the book overwritten and trying too hard to be "literary." Most enjoyed the pithy household tip passages.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A very strange book. June 25 2012
By Neko
This is a very odd read. I'm not sure if I was supposed to laugh or cry (though in actual fact I did neither) at the antics of the lead character. Delia is dying, leaving behind her husband and kids and wants to make sure they carry on life as normal after she has gone. She is portrayed as a total control freak in need of a good psychologist. I found it disturbing that she would tell her husband who to marry after her death, or leave instructions for her daughter's wedding. When she decided to make blood pudding out of her own blood for her children to eat after her death I was actually appalled. Was that bit supposed to be funny? I really have no idea. I have witnessed both the old and the young coming to grips with the imminent arrival of the grim reaper but found no reflection of their experiences in this book. I've given it 3 stars because I really can't decide if it is a book to buy or a book to avoid. I don't regret reading it, but would I read it again or recommend it to a friend? No.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sad, but uplifting story Aug. 25 2010
Delia Bennett is dying. She's a 40 year old mother of two who is in the final stages of metastatic breast cancer and she has discontinued chemo to enjoy the time she has left with her family. Her family consists of her widowed mother, her husband, and her two daughters, and five female chickens, "Jane", "Elizabeth", "Mary", "Kitty", and "Lydia". (Get it?)

But her family had also included a young son, Sonny, who Delia had born in her late teens with a father with whom she had had a brief affair. Having moved out of her native Sydney, Delia lived north of there in an area populated by Australian circus folk and other itinerants. Raising her son by herself, she met Archie, her soon-to-be husband, who was looking forward to being a father to young Sonny. Fate intervened, as it often does, and Delia was dealt an almost life-ending blow. Marrying Archie, she moved back to Sydney and began a second family with him.

By the time Delia is facing down her death, she has established herself as a writer of "how to" guides. She decides to write one on dying. As she begins to write, she realises she must face certain things in her past and tie up loose ends. Debra Alelaide's wonderful novel tells of those "loose ends" and Delia's courage in facing her final days. "Household" is not a depressing book as much as a profound one. Obviously the reader knows the ending will not be "good" for Delia, but, in death, Delia has proven to her loved ones to be as endearing as she was in life.

A wonderful book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous, bizarre, and poignant March 6 2009
By An Educated Consumer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Not a stranger to loss, having been thru sudden, long term illness, and tragic deaths, I chose this book to open my heart and enhance my understanding. It is a novel of a household guide writer's final days facing the end as she succumbs to a losing battle with cancer.
The book goes from the ridiculous...Delia's household books and advice for example. To the...
Bizarre and I might add craziness...of watching a live (no pun intended) autopsy; witnessing the extraction of a loved one's heart; getting a casket made of rough hewn and cratelike materials to place on her porch for what seems like months before her 'passing' so her young daughters can decorate with drawings etc, her husband too; making blood sausage out of her own blood to leave for her unwitting family to devour after she is gone to have a part of her within them etc.
To the poignant...the search for something...closure, acceptance, reassurance, reconnection to her lost son; and the ultimate end when the focus becomes more real and understandable.
Her husband, Archie, is a prince of a man, and her children, well, they behave like children.
While I will not most likely forget this book, I would not have chosen it had I known its contents.
The final pages did reinforce my own personal convictions...to try to live life to its fullest, appreciate the smallest and most valuable blessings and embrace the ones I love and care for.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tough to get into, and doesn't really break much new ground June 11 2009
By R. Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Ultimately, I think this author just wasn't for me. I felt like she spent such an exhaustive time detailing small incidents and moments that I began to wonder if she was just light on plot. I'm all for a solid chronicle, but good lord this was extreme. I didn't find Delia (the main character) very interesting, and at times she came off a bit wooden, and I could see the puppet-strings a bit too much. A book like this, focusing on a dying protaganist, relies so heavily on that character being interesting, that I felt like it just tanked the entire book for Delia to be so bland.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to like it.... May 4 2009
By Relli B. - Published on Amazon.com
I wanted to like this book, I really did - the cover and jacket gave me a "Tuesdays with Morrie" feel. But it was a disappointment - hard to get through, slow, and sometimes, confusing. I didn't feel any sympathy for Delia - she didn't come off as very, well, human. The side characters felt much more real but there were far too little of them. I read and read and tried to get through as much as I could but by the time I got to the blood sausage thing I skipped to the last page and closed to the book. Good thing I got it from the library, this would have been an even more frustrating read if I had spent money on it.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An endearing book March 10 2009
By G. Messersmith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Delia Bennett is dying of cancer. She is a daughter, wife, mother, writer, domestic goddess, and an advice columnist. We see the world through her eyes as she accepts the end. She is even writing a manual entitled, "The Household Guide to Dying." She struggles with how to say goodbye to everyone and what she can leave behind for them.

Delia does not feel sorry for herself, in fact, she keeps up her every day life and goes on as though nothing unusual is happening to her and/or her family. She continues to write her advice column which we get to read from the people who write to her and her responses. We get to follow along as she writes her last book about dying. Delia is a very likeable and unusual protagonist.

Since Delia is a bibliophile; therefore, there are many literary references in this book. Many Jane Austen references are made and the death poet, John Donne, has his fair share. This book is wonderfully well written and should touch every reader in one way or another. Even if it's not the way you would want to go out of this world, you will be abel to appreciate it as Delia's way. This is a very touching and moving book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Details Details Details -- Too Many! June 7 2009
By Kelly McCants - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
There is such a thing as too many descriptive details and this book has far exceeded that. This book took work for me to get through. I don't need an entire chapter devoted to describing a relationship with a chicken. A paragraph would have sufficed.

The protagonist's unpredictable and outrageous emotion-driven actions in the story seemed very inconsistent with the task-oriented, sophisticated "Perfect Paula" impression given in the book advertisement. This book was not what I was expecting based on the description, in other words.

I didn't have any unique lasting impressions after reading this book; for me it was not an enjoyable read, so I feel as though I wasted my time with this read. This will not be a book that withstands the test of time. All that said I did finish the book, mostly because by the end I was curious to see how the plot got wrapped up. I suppose there is something to be said for that.
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