Publication date: February 2018
Format: Paperback, giveaway
Blurb: A moving, thought-provoking and surprisingly humorous book which is both a description of a journey to death and a celebration of the act of living.
Based on Clare Wise’s blog, which she started when she was first diagnosed with cancer in 2013, Not That Kind of Love charts the highs and lows of the last three years of Clare’s life. The end result is not a book that fills you with despair and anguish. On the contrary, Not That Kind of Love should be read by everybody for its candour, and for its warmth and spirit. Clare is an astonishingly dynamic, witty and fun personality, and her positivity and energy exude from every page.
As she becomes too weak to type, her brother – the actor Greg Wise – takes over, and the book morphs into a beautiful meditation on life, and the necessity of talking about death. With echoes of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal and Cathy Rentzenbrink’s The Last Act of Love, it is a very special read that rejoices in the extraordinary and often underestimated sibling bond, and the importance of making the most of the ordinary pleasures life has to offer.
Review: I don’t often read non-fiction. The odd autobiography here and there, often from past Formula 1 drivers but anything non-fiction other than that, I tend to steer clear from. Not because it’s not good but because it’s just not “my thing“. I won this book in a book bundle from Quercus and Book Bridgr so first of all, huge thank you for that! And second of all, this is going to be a corker. This is such a little gem of a book which I hope beyond belief goes far and wide and inspires and encourages many, many people.
Not That Kind of Love is a collection of blog posts from Clare Wise from the start of her cancer journey back in 2013. Along with her brother, actor Greg Wise (who’s married to the eternally loved Emma Thompson aka Mrs Potts for anyone who didn’t know!) who takes over the blog around two thirds of the way into the book, together they form a diary of a difficult and challenging few years of their lives through the ups and downs of Clare’s diagnosis. But more than that, they provide an uplifting and heart-warming journey of love; of all kinds, strength and wisdom. They speak very candidly about life, death and the journey and most importantly, those small victories.
The blog is split into 2 sections; the first two thirds were Clare. So let’s start there. Clare was a vibrant, enthusiastic, hard-working and clever woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. She documented her journey through her blog in very honest and real and raw blog posts which takes us through the endless doctors and hospital appointments, procedures, surgeries and treatments in order to treat her caner. Clare is exceptionally funny and witty and never once takes herself or life too seriously (or that’s the impression I got anyway) even during this difficult time. She felt like a friend and we get to know her quite intimately in this short book; medical ailments and all!
Live as honestly with yourself as possible; live to allow the moments not to go by unnoticed and uncelebrated; try and be kind both to yourself and those around you; try to find a way to love and be loved; keep asking questions, keep trying to find answers, but know when to stop.
At around two thirds into the book, her brother Greg takes over the daily writings of the blog as Clare gets too ill to do so. Greg and Clare are very similar in their sense of humour; both exceptionally funny and witty and dealing with this whole thing with grace. However, Greg’s part of the book is vastly different to Clare’s because he’s given up everything to move into Clare’s apartment to take care of her 24/7 now she’s too ill to live alone. Greg is a superhero in disguise and is at her side all hours of the day, whenever she needs him. There’s such a strong theme of love throughout this book and their relationship was utterly beautiful. I also loved seeing the old photos of them together scattered throughout the pages.
It’s difficult to hear Clare getting more and more ill and knowing the end is getting nearer. It’s also difficult to see how it affects Greg because even though he’s doing his best and would do anything for his sister, it takes it’s toll, understandably. The latter part of the book / blog posts, written by Greg, particularly after Clare has gone talk about death and life and love in the most beautiful way. Talk of death usually makes me exceptionally uncomfortable and I instantaneously find myself shaking my head as if there was a spider on the top of it to “shake it off” and think or talk about something much more innocent like food or the latest Formula 1 race. But the sections of this where Greg talks about death actually made me smile and breathe a sigh of relief. Even through Clare’s funeral chapter I was thinking, “damn, that’s beautiful” instead of “shit get me out of here“.
We truly are all propped up by those who have gone before – the living held up by the dead
This book is no doubt a difficult read. For anyone affected by cancer (so basically everyone), you’ll find moments in this too real, too close to home, moments where you’ll have to have a breather and a think or maybe even put the book down. But it’s life. This book is life in it’s rawest form. And there’s no “putting the book down for a second” in real life. A huge theme in the latter part of the book is about “small victories“, making the most of everything, embracing everything and focusing on the here and now and the small every day things we often overlook. There’s a great quote from Greg, which I will leave below and let you ponder but for now, I would give this book a full 5 stars.
Thank you to Quercus for making this blog into a book and allowing more people on a wider scale to discover Clare and Greg Wise and the life lessons they have to offer. Thank you Greg for providing some of the best quotes I’ve ever read and for allowing me to look at death in a different way for once in my life. And thank you to Clare for being such an inspiration. For allowing me and everyone else who has read the blog or will read the book into your life, into your journey and allowing us to learn from you and realise that difficulties in life shouldn’t prevent you from being completely, totally, unequivocally… you.
If you find yourself with matching socks as you leave the house in the morning, that is a cause for celebration. And I couldn’t agree more. If the rest of the day is spent finding the cure for cancer, or brokering World Peace, then that’s a bonus. And there are gems, there are tiny powerful moments, if we just make ourselves available to witness and mark them. They are there, every day, all around us.