cover image The Mahogany Pod: A Memoir of Endings and Beginnings

The Mahogany Pod: A Memoir of Endings and Beginnings

Jill Hopper. Saraband, $24.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-912235-93-3

In this gorgeous debut, British journalist Hopper looks back on the beauty and turmoil of a whirlwind love affair, and the illness that led to its premature ending. With passion and raw vulnerability, Hopper takes readers through her brief but intense relationship with her first love, Arif, who died of cancer at 25. When, early in their relationship, Arif was diagnosed with high-grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and told that he’d have “a few months at best” to live, the couple agreed to make the most of their remaining time together—sharing their passions in love letters and relishing quiet moments. As Hopper recalls, “It was as if he was trying to give me a lifetime’s worth of pleasure in advance.” In heartrending prose, she recounts supporting Arif in his final stretch of life, juxtaposing their sublime days together leading up to his hospital admittance with a deeply affecting portrayal of his physical decline: “I watched him getting weaker day by day, the faith that my love was going to save him beginning to waver.” After his death, Hopper struggled to recover from the loss, but eventually married and had a son. While slim, her narrative packs a world of feeling within it, rendering a poignant look at how love can unfold even amid immense loss. Romantics, take note and grab some tissues. (June)