The Last Act of Love: The Story of My Brother and His Sister (Paperback)Cathy Rentzenbrink (author)
Selected as a Waterstones Non-Fiction Book of the Month in 2016
I did not know then that there is a world between the certainties of life and death, that it is not simply a case of one or the other, and that there are many and various fates worse than death.
When we think of love, what do we think of? Romantic love, parental love, friendship – all are widely covered in the pages of books. Accounts of sibling relationships are harder to find, yet for many of us it is one of the most profound relationships of our lives; one of our earliest encounters with love, one which stays with us throughout our lives.
The Last Act of Love is a book about Cathy Rentzenbrink’s own relationship with her brother, Matty. In 1990, when Matty was just weeks away from getting his GCSE results, he was in a hit and run accident and left in a permanent vegetative state. This book is the love that came before this event and what happens in the aftermath of tragedy.
Rentzenbrink’s memoir is absorbing, original and profoundly affecting but, more than that, it is essential. It is a book you read and then immediately feel the urge to press into someone else’s hands. It is so generous spirited that reading it feels like a gift - a gift that simply begs to be passed on.
'It is lucid and warm, and – in detailing Cathy’s path towards a successful, happy, fulfilled, if clouded life – feels strangely nourishing to read. Which you absolutely should. The book itself feels an act of love.' - The Guardian
'At what point does a human life cease to be worth living? This question lies at the heart of Cathy Rentzenbrink’s extraordinary memoir.' - The Times
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 182 g
Dimensions: 197 x 130 x 18 mm
Beautiful, devastating and ultimately uplifting, intimate and universal all at once . . . Cathy Rentzenbrink has found a way to express the things that all of us wrestle with at times - knowing how to live and taking the risk to love; facing what has damaged us, and owning it as much as a person can. - Jessie Burton, bestselling author of The Miniaturist
Profoundly moving . . . The book's real power lies in Rentzenbrink's skill as a writer, her ability to unearth precise and agonising details quietly, with no self-pity or drama . . . it falls into a tradition of beautifully written accounts of grief, such as Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking . . . Rentzenbrink offers a message of enormous hope for anybody who is going through loss, grief or trauma . . . She emerges from this unflinching memoir with dignity, strength and an enormous heart - Sunday Times
Devastatingly honest and heartbreakingly raw, The Last Act of Love is not simply a book about grief or love or a family's unstinting hope to do the best for their son and brother. It's a book about courage. About the courage to face reality even at its most bleak. And for all the book's sadness it is, ultimately, a book about hope: about how even the darkest tunnels have a glimmer of light beckoning you at the other end. I defy anyone not to be moved by this remarkable and brave story. - Hannah Beckerman, author of The Dead Wife's Handbook
This is a brilliant book. Harrowing and heartbreaking, but also warm and human and healing. It is about a rare kind of tragedy, but feels universal, as it is about love and loss and how we learn to live, in the face of what life throws at us. You may well cry, but you will feel better for having read it, which you absolutely must. A triumph of love. - Matt Haig, author of Reasons To Stay Alive
Brilliant. Moving, warm, agonising, unputdownable. One of the best memoirs I've read. - Sophie Hannah, author of The Carrier
This is a touching and brave book, heartbreaking yet beautiful. - S J Watson
This lovely, tender, painful book speaks for anyone who has suffered loss, on a scale from minor to cataclysmic . . . which pretty well means us all. - Deborah Moggach, author of the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Extraordinary . . . An honest, heartbreaking, uplifting account of family tragedy. Read it. - Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You
I never knew a story of grief could have so much joy in it. - Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina
This is not only an unflinching and powerfully told account of an unimaginably painful family tragedy. It is also an unforgettable meditation on a close sibling relationship, on growing up with grief, on life, love and everything in between. I am in awe of how Cathy has managed to write so bravely and beautifully of something so devastating, and forge such a positive affirmation of familial love from such desperately bleak circumstances. - The Bookseller
There are only two ways that this book will be read: devoured in the middle of the night in one sitting, or eked out, only a few pages a day, because the feelings it prompts are simply too intense. Either way, it will both stick with you and have you grabbing the forearm of whoever asks you what to read next intensely, so they know how great this is . . . a gobsmacking memoir about family and love. Truly, it will inspire you to be your very best self for a long time after the final page. - The Debrief
Profoundly moving . . . It is a great achievement to transform such a terrible story - one of a kind with which, as a neurosurgeon, I am painfully familiar - into something rather beautiful and uplifting . . .This book should be read by everybody who has either personal or professional experience of severe head injury and, indeed, by anybody who is concerned by the way our society has such difficulty in accepting that meaningful life is about more than just a beating heart. - Dr. Henry Marsh, New Statesman
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“Beautiful and Emotional”
Wow. What a beautiful, Heartfelt and enlightening book! Very emotional. I can't even begin to imagine how hard this book must have been to write. It shows exactly how much love people have for their siblings,... More
““It is our last act of love for him” ”
This beautiful memoir will make you look at life in a whole new way, I'm so pleased that there are people in the world who have the courage to write these life-affirming books. It's inspiring. And I am in... More
“'The Last Act of Love' a poignant and cathartic legacy.”
After hearing one of my colleagues talk about how much this book had moved her, I knew I had to read it and was kindly sent a copy by Pan Macmillan. The book deals with a subject incredibly close to my heart, that of... More
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