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The Household Guide to Dying

4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Oakhill Publishing Limited (Feb. 13 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1846485304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846485305
  • Shipping Weight: 222 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
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Product Description


'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 'Adelaide's moving novel captures both the hope and sadness of Delia's plight' Daily Mail 'A novel about loving and grieving...filled with humour, warmth and sadness - just like life' Good Reading 'I found this novel entrancing. The Household guide to Dying is a joyous, irreverent romp of a book that resonates deep inside long after you finish. Delia's magical, crystalline voice made me fervently wish that she was real and that I knew her.' PATRICIA WOOD, Lottery --This text refers to the Paperback 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 Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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By Jill Meyer HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 25 2010
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Delia Bennet, wife and mother aged 39, is dying. Between now, and then, there is a lot Delia wants to accomplish. She has her lists of things to do, her loose ends to tie up, her planning for her husband and daughters once she is dead. Delia is also writing her final book: ‘The Household Guide to Dying’, the last in a Household Guide series which has included the Garden, Home Maintenance, Kitchen and Laundry. She will address themes such as Palliative Care, Funeral Festivities and Wills and Wishes. She won’t, lacking the necessary experience, address the afterlife.

‘I could have been lots of things. And yet I had become a dying mother with a book that possibly would never be finished.’

Delia wants to say goodbye to her daughters Daisy and Estelle, to her husband Archie. She wants to prepare them for her death. And it’s hard: balancing what Delia thinks their needs will be in the future with their (and her) current needs. How do you prepare for a future that you are no longer an active part of? Delia’s life is rich and layered: her research for her book – including attending an autopsy, her regular column of domestic advice, her family. Delia may be dying, but she’s not sitting around waiting for it to happen.

‘It was natural to want to tie up the dangling threads before you died. These threads had tripped me up too often over the years,’

Delia needs to revisit her past. Her life as a pregnant 17 year old in a Queensland country town called Amethyst. Delia’s two week solo visit to Amethyst is a very special part of this novel: can she find what she is searching for?

‘Death is a condition, but dying is an act, I said. It’s a noun versus a verb.’

I loved this book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me think.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars 45 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 26 2016
By Glen J. - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a great book for our book sale :). Great job!!!
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
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 try to live life to its fullest, appreciate the smallest and most valuable blessings and embrace the ones I love and care for.
4.0 out of 5 stars Emotional Read July 12 2009
By Julie Peterson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
THE HOUSEHOLD GUIDE TO DYING by Debra Adelaide is a beautifully written novel that will undoubtedly touch your heart. It is a beautiful novel that was on the longlist for the Orange Prize. I knew that it was going to be difficult to read because it is about a young mother who is dying from cancer, but I had no idea how much this story would touch me. While I don't have a whole lot in common with the main character Delia, I still related to so many of her thoughts and feelings about dying.

First and foremost, this book is incredibly written. Ms. Adelaide writes with such vivid detail and her descriptions of pretty much everything were amazing. I was blown away by how beautiful the prose was -- so many pages were like reading poetry. I was also amazed by how much insight the author had not only dying, but living. The book and the characters struck me as very real, and that's probably what made reading this book such an intense experience. I also appreciated that the author managed to infuse lots of humor into Delia and her life; and that's another reason that I found this story to be so touching. It really was just like life -- happy times, sad times, funny times, etc.

One of the things that touched me the most about this book was that I could really understand Delia's need to get everything in place and accomplish just one more thing. Dying ultimately is about letting go and accepting things, and I think that would be very difficult to come to terms with for control freaks. I have a feeling that, like Delia, I would be similarly inclined to try to maintain control over any element of my life that I could.

Another thing that I really liked about this novel were the little tidbits of advice and household hints that appeared. Delia wrote a household advice column and many of the questions as well as her answers appeared throughout the book. Delia was known for her condescension and sarcastic answers; and I actually found myself laughing at a few of them.

Even though I did relate to some of Delia's actions, I still had a hard time understanding all of them. Of course, it's probably wrong to judge even a fictional character who is dying, but I did find some of her actions to be kind of "out there." I especially found myself questioning some of the things she asked of her family; however, I'm pretty sure that if I knew I were dying, I wouldn't be entirely selfless either. Despite some of her more crazy ideas, I will admit that I was deeply touched by Delia's attempt to make things right for her husband, her daughters, and even her mother. And, I loved what she left of herself for each of them to remember her.

While there is no doubt that this novel is about a woman who is dying, I really felt like it was actually more about living your life to the fullest. I, for one, don't really like to think about dying and leaving my husband and children; however it's unfortunately something that could happen to me. While so much of this book was very, very sad, I absolutely loved how the author described Delia's death at the end of the book -- not only was the writing beautiful, but she made the experience sound so peaceful to me. You can't help but be touched by the last few pages of this novel.

You really should consider THE HOUSEHOLD GUIDE TO DYING for a future book club selection especially if your group is made up of mothers. There is just so much to discuss! You can read a wonderful interview with Ms. Adelaide that definitely enhanced my reading experience. And there is also a reader's guide available which will help keep your discussion on track. I am pretty sure that you could talk for hours about Delia and her life. I know I would love to sit back with some wine and hear my friends' opinions on this book; however, I do think discussion might be hard at times because this book does cause you to think about your own mortality and how you'd cope with it. Or, it just might be a wake-up call about living your life to the fullest!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A cup of laughter, a dash of tears, a pinch of wisdom... and more March 12 2009
By S. Badami - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Delia Bennet, author of a successful Household Guide series on everything from gardens to laundry, seems to have all the answers: from descaling the kettle, regrouting the bathroom, the uses of naphthalene, the best recipe for wedding cake and any kind of stain removal.

Until she's diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly, thinking about how her family will get by when she's gone, she starts thinking about and what they'll eat when she's gone (including a very personal blood sausage) and her young daughters' weddings to the best outfit for death and most eco-friendly coffins, she starts a series of lists that will become her final book, The Household Guide to Dying.

But while she prepares for her death, she must also face her past and the heartbreaking secret that she's spent much of her life trying to forget.

Witty, tender, honest and deeply affecting, this is a celebration of the little things that make life worth living: good music, great books, a decent cup of tea. The pleasures of home and heartbreaks of family. And the big questions too: about death, the past, and the best books to read when you're dying.

Unputdownable, unflinching - and unforgettable, like a perfectly baked madeleine. Or is that blood sausage?
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
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.