Review: Dear Life by Rachel Clarke


Title: Dear Life: A Doctor’s Story of Love and Loss

Author: Rachel Clarke

Published: January 28th 2020, Hachette Australia

Status: Read January 2020 courtesy Hachette Au


My Thoughts:

“For the dying are living, like everyone else”

Dear Life is part memoir, part meditation on medicine, death and dying.

Much of the first half focuses on Rachel Clarke’s personal life. After a short career in journalism, Clarke surrendered to the inevitable and commenced a degree in medicine, following in her revered father’s footsteps. While completing her training in the NHS, Clarke unexpectedly found herself drawn to the area of palliative medicine.

As a palliative care doctor, Clarke believes the specialty demonstrates medicine at its very best, ‘placing patient, not disease, centre stage’. Like most I fear death, in part because I am terrified of an end of indignity, of pain, and suffering. Touching also on the ethical questions surrounding the common ‘life-at-all-cost’ practice of medicine, and the importance of Advanced Health Directives, Clarke explains how palliative care aims to address and alleviate those fears as much as possible. Clarke’s portrayal of her patients and their struggle to live, even while dying, is insightful and compassionate. With empathy and honesty the author shares the last days of some of her patients, who approach their end with a mixture of anger, understanding, fear, resignation, and often, perhaps surprisingly in the end, acceptance.

This becomes all the more important to Rachel when her beloved father, a G.P, is diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer, and when treatment proves unsuccessful, she does all she can to ease his demise.

Dear Life is a thoughtful, inspiring, and surprisingly comforting exploration of a subject most us find difficult to discuss, or even contemplate. The hard truth is, Death will one day come for us, and when it does, we will want palliative and hospice services that will facilitate, and advocate for, the inevitable end on our own terms.


Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound


US Cover

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lotte Lauv | Author
    Jan 23, 2020 @ 01:24:34

    Sounds like a very intense book!

    Lotte |

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Vicki
    Jan 23, 2020 @ 07:43:17

    I just got back home Monday night after traveling out of state for my brother in laws funeral due to cancer, so this subject has been on my mind for a few weeks.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Jenn J McLeod | Australian Fiction Author
    Jan 23, 2020 @ 08:45:17

    Not sure I could read it (I’d like to think I can, but…. too close) But the lover is amazing. Both of them, but I am rather partial to the wish!!!!!



  4. Jennifer
    Jan 23, 2020 @ 11:00:42

    A great review! Thank you for sharing. I’ll add this one to my reading list.

    Liked by 1 person


  5. Lisa
    Jan 24, 2020 @ 02:19:36

    Lovely review. This sounds really moving — will have to track down a copy!

    Liked by 1 person


  6. fuonlyknew
    Jan 24, 2020 @ 03:39:46

    Such a wonderful review.



  7. BookerTalk
    Jan 24, 2020 @ 08:44:48

    I really want to read this but i need a little time to elapse first since today I finished listening to When Breath Becomes Air (memoir of a doctor diagnosed with advanced lung cancer).

    Liked by 1 person


  8. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  9. Carol
    Feb 01, 2020 @ 19:34:10

    Great review! As you mentioned, it’s a difficult subject but it really needs to be talked about.

    Liked by 1 person


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