Before I Say Goodbye: Recollections and Observations from One Woman's Final Year

Ruth Picardie, Author, Matt Seaton, Foreword by, Ruth Placardle, Author Owl Books (NY) $13 (131p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6612-8
In 1997 at the age of 32, journalist Picardie died of an aggressive cancer (originally misdiagnosed) that began in her breast and spread to her bones, liver and brain, killing her within 10 months. Her career was in full swing when she was diagnosed, and her twin children were just one year old. This collection contains her final journalistic workDcolumns about her illness written for London's Observer Life magazineDas well as letters to and from her friends, readers and children, plus an essay by her husband documenting the weeks before her death, when she was too ill to write. All this is as heartbreaking as it sounds, but is made bearable by Picardie's lively record of her efforts to live as long and well as possible, bravely drawing on British traditions of humor and stoicism. Her writing reveals a woman who, despite her anger and grief, remains open to life's joys and observes what is happening around her with clear eyes. Her writing is fresh and funny and displays so much pop culture savoir faire that comparisons to Bridget Jones (a character she enjoyed) are inevitable. Picardie documents the foul-weather friends who appear when they learn of her illness, her ongoing battles with her weight and the only beneficial therapy she discovers: spending wads of money on makeup and clothing. Still, without turning maudlin, she recognizes the serious nature of her condition and gently reminds her readers that life is precarious and precious. To finish this deeply personal account is to lose a friend and to celebrate her ultimately triumphant life. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-20449-1
Paperback - 128 pages - 978-0-14-027630-5
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