“The last days of Rabbit Hayes”
(St. Martin’s Press, 2015)
The cover is rather joyful to address a very dark topic, that of mourning, incurable suffering and impending separation from a loved one.
The author, Anna McPartlin is a former Irish humorist turned novelist.
It is the story of the last nine days of Mia, nicknamed Rabbit, forty-year-old and terminally ill with generalized cancer. She knows she is going to die, and her relatives and friends also sense it : her mother, her father, her 12-year-old daughter Juliet, whom she raised alone, her older sister and her brother who has come back from America, as well as her best friend Marjorie. Everyone manages in one’s own way this terrible ordeal. The chapters are divided between the thoughts and reminiscences of each other. In this way memories and experiences flow to reflect all the emotional ties that have woven the web of Rabbit Hayes’ destiny.
This reading is extremely touching because
- on the one hand, it is very realistic: the physical suffering of Rabbit is not concealed and the clumsily human attitudes of relatives are not mitigated. The author wants to describe with a touching lucidity the behavior of people like you and me who find themselves one day in the face of the impending death of their daughter, mother, sister, aunt or friend.
- on the other hand, this story is filled with humor and love, which makes it terribly endearing. The soaked characters, the crooks and the gaffes of each other punctuate the events and above all, the love between these people illuminates the tragedy and brings a new comforting perspective.
It is a novel beneficial for people affected by grief, cancer at the ultimate stage, separation with a loved one. Of course, the sufferings from a similar experience may come back while reading this story, but this resurgence will occur as a salutary catharsis.
It is also necessary to underline the comprehensive character of this story since the various perspectives in the face of the apprehension of the impending death does not only concern the parents and friends of Rabbit, but Rabbit herself, who gives us her own point of view with regard to her situation on the verge of death.