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Dear Life: A Doctor's Story of Love and Loss

Rachel Clarke



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Little Brown
28 January 2020
Biography; Autobiography: science, technology & engineering
It takes courage to love the things of this world when all of them, without fail, are fleeting, fading, no more than a spark against the darkness of deep time. Yet when everything you have been and done and meant to the world is being prised from your grasp, human connections are the vital medicine. It is other people who make the difference.

Rachel Clarke grew up spellbound by her father's stories of practising medicine. Then, as a doctor herself, one who specialised in palliative medicine, she found herself contemplating all her training had taught her in the face of her own beloved father's mortality.

DEAR LIFE is the inspiring, sometimes heartbreaking and yet deeply uplifting story of the doctor we would all want to have by our side in a crisis. The hospice where Rachel works is, of course, a world haunted by loss and grief, but it is also teeming with life.

If there is a difference between people who know they are dying and the rest of us, it is simply this: that the terminally ill know their time is running out, while we live as though we have all the time in the world. In a hospice, therefore, there is more of what matters in life - more love, more strength, more kindness, more smiles, more dignity, more joy, more tenderness, more grace, more compassion - than you could ever imagine.

DEAR LIFE is a love letter - to a father, a profession, to life itself.
By:   Rachel Clarke
Imprint:   Little Brown
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 232mm,  Width: 150mm,  Spine: 28mm
Weight:   454g
ISBN:   9781408712887
ISBN 10:   1408712881
Pages:   336
Publication Date:   28 January 2020
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Rachel Clarke is a current NHS doctor and former television journalist who cares passionately about standing up for her patients and the NHS. She originally read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University before making current affairs documentaries about subjects as diverse as the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Al Qaeda and the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She retrained as a doctor in her late twenties, graduating in 2009. She now works in palliative medicine, believing that helping patients at the end of life experience the best quality life possible is priceless. Rachel lives in Oxford with her husband and two children.

Reviews for Dear Life: A Doctor's Story of Love and Loss

A tender meditation on how people confront their final days . . . Clarke is unerringly good at telling stories and Dear Life is full of them . . . kind, unironic and emotionally invested . . . the passages in her book that made me want to weep were not the ones about dying, but the ones about living, loving, learning how to say goodbye * Observer * [A] moving book. Her intention is not to be maudlin or sensationalist. Rather, what she wants us to grasp is that we have nothing to fear about reaching the end of our lives * Mail on Sunday * Rachel Clarke's heart-rending account beautifully mixes her memories of caring for the dying with those of her father's terminal cancer . . . she's the kind of doctor we would all want as we face our last days. And she's sure as hell a writer. There is a tender, lyrical beauty to the prose that adds to the emotional punch * Sunday Times * Though a new medical memoir seems to come along every five minutes just now, this one is special. Clarke . . . has written a book, beautiful and blessedly un-mawkish, about her experiences. Among its pages are true horrors for those involved, but also a numinous beauty. Her words are brimful of love, grace and kindness -- Alex Preston * Guardian * Clarke writes so movingly about what it means to face death, the grief that gets left behind and how hospices do such vital work in allowing people to die being looked after and surrounded by the people they love * Stylist * Rachel Clarke should be essential reading for all of us. A few years ago she wrote Your Life in My Hands, an account of her time as a junior doctor. Now she has written an even better book . . . It is in part a love letter both to her father, whose life and death she describes with great tenderness and unflinching directness, and her patients, but it is also a touching and profound meditation on what it means to be human . . . It is a remarkable book -- John Crace * Guardian * Dear Life names the tension between love and risk that gives life its sweetness. It takes readers to the edge of life in supportive, wise company -- Kathryn Mannix What a remarkable book this is; tender, funny, brave, heartfelt, radiant with love and life, and with the love of life. It brought me often to laughter and - several times - to tears -- Robert Macfarlane Dying is rarely easy, nor is writing about it - but Rachel Clarke does so perfectly, with neither sentimentality nor sensationalism, and instead with realism and kindness. This is a truly wonderful book. Read it * Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm * A truly beautiful book about death and life and the price of love. Told by a doctor, with compassion and wisdom. I cried, but they were warm, comforting tears. It made me think about stuff I fear in a new and better way -- Matt Haig Moving, thought-provoking and so very important. I'm immeasurably grateful to have read it, and it will stay with me. In death, we learn about life -- Nigella Lawson This is a wonderful book. Rachel takes the worst life can throw at us and shows us the beauty in it, and the very best of human nature * Adam Kay, author of This is Going to Hurt *

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