The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

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The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: Don't attempt to read this unless you have plenty of tissues and a tub of Haagan Dazs to hand. This book will utterly break your heart, but it's ultimately uplifting. A beautifully told story about relationships, grief, and moving on from a terrible tragedy. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 496 Date: February 2014
Publisher: Penguin
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0718178147

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Rachel wasn't ready to drop dead at thirty-five. It's been a year since - a year she's spent trapped in some sort of netherworld that allows her brief, tantalising glimpses of the lives of those she's left behind. There's no apparent rhyme or reason to the glimpses, and Rachel wishes they were more often and lasted longer.

Her husband Max has been left with the job of raising their six-year-old daughter, Ellie, alone. Rachel thinks he's doing a good job of it, but her friend Harriet is worried for Max, and thinks it's time he got out into the world again and started dating.

Being apart from her family was torture enough, but Rachel can't bare the thought of Max moving on from her. Nothing terrifies her more than the thought of dying a second death - being forgotten by the people she loves.

If you're going to read this (and you should, it's excellent) there are a couple of supplies you're going to need before hand. So make a quick shopping list now.

First, tissues. Many, many tissues.

I don't cry at books. I'm a certified blubber when it comes to films and TV shows, but it's all in the music. Just play me a sad theme and I'll get a lump in my throat. Books have to be really something to prompt any sort of teary-eyed response.

I think I cried at this about ten times in the first fifty pages. In fact, it took me much longer to read the first fifty pages than it did the whole rest of the book. The raw grief and emotion in the first few chapters was so much at times that I had to put it down and spend a while away from it just to recover. Which brings me to the second item on your shopping list.

Ice cream.

The tried and true antidote to break up blues. You'll need some to get you through this sob fest.

You'll probably also need quick access to your loved ones, because you will want to hold them and not let go for some time.

Beckerman expertly launches you on a roller coaster ride of the conflicting and difficult emotions triggered by loss and grief. Guilt, anger, depression, fear, loneliness, they're all there and explored in heart wrenching detail. I would go as far as to say it was traumatic at times.

But necessary. The development of the plot and Rachel's character as she moves through the stages of grief to acceptance wouldn't have packed half as much punch without that initial black hole. Watching the characters try to claw their way out of it really gets you behind them, and though they often have conflicting interests (Rachel doesn't want Max to have a new girlfriend, though you suspect it's probably the best thing for him) there's never anyone that you can't understand and support when viewing things from their perspective.

The Dead Wife's Handbook is an ultimately uplifting story. Though it's hard work, it's worth it. The writing is beautiful, and as the cover quote says: full of love. The complexity of relationships, of grief, are beautifully portrayed. I'm sure this book is going to be massive this year.

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.

If you enjoy a good cry, Ten Things I've Learnt About Love by Sarah Butler also comes highly recommended by Bookbag, as does Goldengrove by Francine Prose.

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Buy The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman at Booklists.jpg The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman is in the Top Ten General Fiction Books of 2014.


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