Review: The Very Last List of Vivian Walker by Megan Albany


Title: The Very Last List of Vivian Walker

Author: Megan Albany

Published: 9th February 2022, Hachette Australia

Status: Read February 2022 courtesy Hachette


My Thoughts:


“I have lived averagely, loved tepidly and managed to sometimes get the washing on the line before it started to smell from having been forgotten in the machine. These are not major achievements, yet I am attached to all of them.”


In The Very Last List of Vivian Walker by Megan Albany, Vivian Walker hasn’t got time to contemplate the meaning of life, she’s dying, and she has stuff to do.

Always one for lists, Vivian puts pen to paper, * Clean the fridge *Declutter the playroom *Get my tax up to date…. If she has time she’ll consider her husband’s additions: *Have sex Make love *Go for long walks in the countryside, though she’ll make the effort for her 8 year old son’s: *Play handball with Mum *Build a robot *Have a sleepover.

Emptying the fridge completely allows Vivian to check off the first item on her list, upping her morphine means she can still beat Ethan in a game of handball, she even agrees to a short walk in the park with Clinton, but the list keeps growing, and time is running out.

“…dying happens moment by moment, so there is still plenty of time to be irritated, provoked, frustrated, angry, resentful and really, really annoyed by the people who will miss you most when you are dead and gone.”

Dying characters, particularly relatively young ones, always seem to have bestowed upon them a mantle of bravery, wisdom and grace, but Albany counters that tradition with her cynical, abrasive, and short-tempered protagonist. Vivian still yells at her son when he tracks sand inside, continues to call out her husband’s (many) failings, and refuses to be the first to break in the latest petty argument with her sister. She’s not particularly likeable most of the time to be honest but she has a wicked, if also cutting, sense of humour and I mostly found her blunt, practical manner refreshing. I could relate to her passion for lists, and her concern about her husband’s capability for picking up the mental load of life admin and parenting after she’s gone. There are also moments when Vivian is kind, and she isn’t devoid of insights or regrets, though they have limited impact on how she continues to live. Details of a very difficult childhood also go some way to redeeming her, so does having earned the loyalty of her outrageous best friend, Marsha.

While I was regularly amused by Vivian’s witty observations, and sharp assessments, the gallows humour and cynicism might be quite confronting for some.  So too may be the realisation that dying may not be a mystical, profound process, but rather a mundane one. Albany doesn’t shy away from the realities of Vivian’s deteriorating physical condition either, and there are no stunning epiphanies or miracles in her last moments, she’s just gone.

“She really wanted to be a good woman, a good friend, a good wife and a good mum. I think she always felt she fell short of perfect, but she was still more than enough…”

Hilarious, provocative and moving, I found The Very Last List of Vivian Walker to be a fabulous read.


Available to purchase from Hachette Australia

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon | book'd out
  2. Mystica
    Mar 01, 2022 @ 22:57:19

    I dont think I can face this kind of bravery and humour right now. Intriguing book though.

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Garrulous Gwendoline
    May 23, 2022 @ 17:10:24

    I’m reading it at the moment. Early days. Had some laugh out loud chuckles. Still evaluating Vivian and whether I will warm to her, but some of what she has to say could be coming out of my mouth. LOL. SO refreshing to have a book where we don’t necessarily love the protagonist.

    Liked by 1 person


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