Late Fragments: Everything I Want to Tell You (About This Magnificent Life) is a book that first caught my eye a couple of years ago as I was browsing the ‘Recommended for You’ section on Goodreads, perhaps the best companion for any avid reader out there. After reading the short synopsis and discovering the blog online that Kate maintained throughout her struggle with cancer, I bookmarked it to read later. I don’t quite know what it was, exactly, but there was something about the way she wrote that just drew me into her every word. And then, as always seems to happen, university got in the way and I found myself putting off reading it for just over a year. It was a case of ‘once I’ve finished this term’ or ‘once these books have been read’. Eventually, I finally found the time to sit down and read the book that had held my curiosity for quite some time, and I was unable to put it down. I read the entirety of the book in the space of two sittings, and some of the ideas that Gross discusses in Late Fragments have stuck with me even a month after reading.
Gross writes emotionally, frankly and accessibly whilst covering subjects and ideas that typically make the average person uneasy
Late Fragments is a memoir written by Kate Gross, former Aide to Tony Blair and CEO of the Africa Governance Initiative, about her struggle with stage IV terminal cancer in her mid-thirties. She wrote the memoir for her husband and two children, in the hope that it might serve as a source of support and comfort following her passing. Throughout her memoir, Gross writes emotionally, frankly and accessibly whilst covering subjects and ideas that typically make the average person uneasy. Gross muses upon her own mortality, the legacy she will leave behind, how her family will cope with the loss, and what it is to leave the world at such a young age. Throughout the book, Gross writes not only of herself, but of the people around her who made her struggle easier to bear or supported her through the worst days. Cancer is never an easy subject to write about, especially when the author is battling it themselves, but Gross’ style and approach to the subject is honest, moving, and carries a frankness that engages with the reader on a number of emotive and thematic levels. And yet, somehow, Late Fragments gives across the impression that everything eventually will be alright. Gross’ frankness and honesty, her memoir baring every emotional turn of her struggle against something that cannot be changed, is a gemstone of a book, exploring the complex issues of family, mortality and what happens ‘after’.
Late Fragments is a book about perhaps one of the most difficult themes in all of literature: what happens when we are confronted with our own mortality
Late Fragments is a book about perhaps one of the most difficult themes in all of literature: what happens when we are confronted with our own mortality. The book deals with it carefully and effectively and in a way that betrays a writer of much skill and, perhaps more importantly, much heart. Gross writes candidly about her though processes: the emotional turmoil that such a revelation presents people with is calmly and collectedly examined in a heartfelt exploration of her own private world. The intimate style in which Gross discusses her relationships with her friends and family creates an intimate memoir that is very difficult to put down. For a book that was perhaps a little outside what I usually read, it was emotional, profound, and explored perhaps the most personal of subjects with a skill and grace that has left it lingering with me some few weeks after turning its final page.
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