When Feast Is Finished


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The writer Brian Aldiss provides an account of his wife's fatal illness and her death from pancreatic cancer in November 1997. The book describes how they first found out about the cancer, which was initially masked by a heart complaint. Margaret's illness is rapid: she goes from occasionally tired, to bedridden, in a matter of months. Aldiss records the kindness of friends, and the support he receives from colleagues, doctors and the Macmillan nurses who care for Margaret. He speaks about the minutiae of existence: making his wife's progressively tiny breakfast, buying a new car, visiting an old home. He portrays his wife as stoical, uncomplaining and brave, and shows how the tragedy affects his four children. While looking through some of Margaret's old diaries, he comes across some unflattering comments about himself, along with some very loving words. The experience is humbling. He and his wife visit a hospice for the terminally ill and Margaret eventually asks to be taken there.
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