The Household Guide to Dying
By Debra Adelaide
(Putnam Adult, Hardcover, 9780399155598, 320pp.)
Publication Date: April 2, 2009
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A freshly insightful, hopeful, and dramatic novel full of heart and life-told from the perspective of a household advice columnist, wife, and mother who is determined to finish a lifetime's worth of tasks even though she doesn't have a lifetime left to live.
T he Household Guide to Dying is a moving, witty, and uplifting novel about Delia, who writes an acerbic and wildly popular household advice column. When Delia realizes that she is losing her long battle with cancer, she decides to organize her remaining months-and her husband and children's future lives without her-the same way she has always ordered their household. Unlike the many faithful readers of her advice column-people who are rendered lost and confused when faced with dirty shirt collars-Delia knows just what to do. She will leave a list for her daughter's future wedding; fill the freezer with homemade sausages, stews, and sauces; and even (maddeningly) offer her husband suggestions for a new wife. She'll compile a lifetime's worth of advice for her children, and she'll even write the ultimate "Household Guide to Dying" for her fans. There is one item on her list, however, that proves too much even for "Dear Delia," and it is the single greatest task she had set for herself. Yet just as Delia is coming to terms with this, an unexpected visitor helps her believe in her life's worth in a way that no list ever could.
Imbued with Delia's love for food, Jane Austen, clucking hens, and fragrant gardens, and interspersed with her secrets to making a pot of tea, removing wine stains from lace, and the ingredients to the perfect wedding cake, this is a gorgeously crafted novel that captures the reader-heart and mind-and expands our understanding of a meaningful life.