In unsparing prose, Korda...never casts himself as a hero, but in his devotion, he was herculean ... By the end of the book, Margaret remains an enigma to readers and, to some extent, to her husband. He tries, with limited success, to give us glimpses of her inner life, while emphasizing what he viewed as her chameleon-like talents to please whomever was in the room or in the forefront of her life ... This is not a flattering portrait of the woman or the man celebrating her. One longs to know how she felt about this ... What he celebrates as her endearing quirks may be perceived by some as tiresome ... One gets the impression of a guarded woman, even with those closest to her. If this ever bothered Korda, he keeps it to himself ... he becomes the voice for so many caregivers, and the inherent isolation and loneliness, the second-guessing that remains long after death ... A tic in Korda’s writing: He refers repeatedly to his privileged childhood, which comes off as unconscious boasting ... My concern is that this snobbery could put off readers who might benefit from Korda’s wisdom but conclude they have little in common with him. I urge such readers to stick with him, because quite the opposite ends up being true. Anyone who has ever cared for a loved one at the end of life will identify with Korda’s escalating feelings of despair and uselessness as he tries to save his wife from a disease with no rescue.
...a story about life and death that’s informative, moving and wise ... The story of how Margaret secured the doctor who performed both of her brain surgeries and managed her treatment almost defies belief ... When it comes to charting his own difficult emotional journey as Margaret’s caregiver, Michael doesn’t hold back ... Korda likewise spares no details of Margaret’s last days, revealing how painfully hard dying can be even when his wife, in hospice care by this time, had the benefit of attentive caregivers ... For all his candor in describing Margaret’s rapid decline, there’s a certain British reserve in the information Michael parcels out in the book’s few glimpses of their pre-cancer lives ... Passing is a sad story, but it’s also a knowing and tender tribute to the love that endures after a long and devoted relationship has reached its inevitable end.
Those of us who are members of that enormous, sad club — the club of people who have lost loved ones to cancer — will find much that resonates in Michael Korda’s new book ... Written in plain, straightforward prose ... We all know about the agony of surgery, radiation, recovery, hope, recurrence, despair. But in Korda’s careful, unsentimental prose, we can see reflections of our own loved ones ... There is only one place for this story to lead, but Korda’s book keeps you reading because of the graceful, understated way he conveys his anguish, his love and his admiration for his spirited wife ... a moving book. Those of us who have lived through such loss might not learn a lot from it, but we will recognize in Korda a sympathetic and eloquent member of the cancer club.
Retired Simon & Schuster editor-in-chief Korda...offers a sensitive and absorbing chronicle of his wife’s death from cancer a year after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor ... He chronicles in detail her yearlong experience of surgeries, therapy, decline, and decision-making as the two learned the extent of her illness and, finally, abandoned 'hope, illusions, [and] faith in miracles.' A compassionate chronicle of a couple's last year.
Korda’s account of Margaret’s medical treatments—surgery, radiation, and rehabilitation—is made all the more striking as he details her lifetime of physical fitness, including riding horses competitively (and winning five national championships). He sensitively describes how Margaret’s 'present was becoming unbearable at a quickening rate' though he concludes that in the end her eyes showed not resignation but 'perhaps even gratitude' that 'the struggle was coming to an end.' Lovingly told, Korda’s memoir movingly captures the complexities of dealing with the death of a loved one.