The Reluctant Carer

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What to expect

‘Incredible. One of those rare books that should be dispensed on prescription to every household.’ – Lucy Easthope, author of When the Dust Settles
‘Hilarious, bitter, poignant and profound . . . like an existential soap opera – only with more laughs.’ – Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan

It was the kind of phone call we all dread. Your elderly father has been admitted to hospital. Your even older mum is now at home alone. The answer? Simple. Drop everything, go back and help. The reality? Not so straightforward. Suddenly, you’re a kid again, stranded in the overheated house you grew up in. Soon they need you 24/7. And you want to help, of course you do. But now your own life starts to unravel almost as quickly as their health. And then there is nowhere else to go.

In between bouts of washing, feeding, cooking and fighting there are times that test you, days where everything goes wrong and moments when everyone, miraculously rises to the occasion. And amidst all of that, this strange second childhood offers up a shot at redemption – if you can just stop everyone from falling down.

Irresistibly funny, unflinching and deeply moving, this is a love letter to family and friends, to carers and to anyone who has ever packed a small bag intent on staying for just a few days. This is a true story of what it really means to be a carer, and of the ties that bind even tighter when you least expect it. This is The Reluctant Carer.

Critics Review

  • It’s the wisest, funniest, bravest and most essential life story I’ve read. I bloody love this book.

    Frank Cottrell-Boyce
  • An astonishing and crucial memoir exploring the outer limits of familial love. The Reluctant Carer recounts a personal nightmare any of us could face with humour, heart and total honesty, asking vital questions of elderly care, where we’re at now, and where, one day, we will all be. How it’s as funny as it is moving is beyond me. I loved this book

    David Whitehouse, author of About A Son
  • Incredible. One of those rare books that should be dispensed on prescription to every household – captures the full glossary of emotion that goes with this role.

    Lucy Easthope, author of When the Dust Settles
  • I absolutely loved this book. Moving and real, as well as splutter-your-tea funny, it’s a clear-eyed, intimate description of what old age is really like, and what it’s like trying to care for the old. It knocked me sideways.

    Miranda Sawyer
  • As funny as it is moving and poetic, The Reluctant Carer marries the forensic honesty of Karl Ove Knausgaard with the dry wit of Alan Bennett, and is every bit as good as that sounds.

    Will Storr, author of The Science of Storytelling
  • Compellingly written, addictive to read, The Reluctant Carer turns the demands of compassion into dark farce. Hilarious, bitter, poignant and profound, this is the human condition laid brilliantly bare, like an existential soap opera – only with more laughs. The author relays the trauma of ageing parents – and the decisions so many of us have to face – with honesty, empathy, and absolute integrity. This is the funniest, most touching book I’ve read in years; it will, quite frankly, break your heart.

    Philip Hoare, author of Leviathan

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