Way back in the olden days – Also known as Early March 2020 – when we still had Bookclub – I took out Death & Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor.
It took me a while to knuckle down and read it because I didn’t feel like a death book, especially in the midst of a pandemic. I eventually decided, however, that the other part of the title says ‘happy endings’ so there was hope. Also, if the blurb said it is ‘brilliantly funny, an absolute joy’ and ‘a spirited feel-good story’, how bad could it be?
Well, I gave it a whirl and really enjoyed it. The premise is that the main character, Jennifer, has three months to live. Jennifer decides to use the time she has left to clear up a few unsaid things with three important people in her life, namely, her self-centred sister, her philandering ex-husband and her charming but elusive ex-boyfriend. If we’re honest, we all have things we’d love to say but don’t. Good and bad. Would we avoid these difficult conversations if we knew our time was up?
Jennifer decides to say what needs to be said, to have it all out, in writing. She sends off letters to her three significant persons and things start to unfold: relationships, communication, surprises and some unintended consequences. And then things start to spiral out on the health front, but not necessarily in the direction expected. Also there’s this guy on Hampstead Heath. But that’s besides the point. Or is it?
The chapters in Part One are named for how many days she has left before Death, plus the story is written in the first person present tense, so you get the sense of the immediacy of life, as well as a countdown.
As one of my book club friends wrote in the comments at the back of the book, Carpe Diem, friends.
Read all the books.
Especially the uplifting, heartwarming ones like this.