The Spare Room

Gloucester’s Neurology Book Club was delighted to convene for its first face-to-face meeting since the pandemic began to discuss The Spare Room by Helen Garner, a modern-day fictional novel blended with highlights of Garner’s personal experiences. Garner, a former teacher, is now a well-established Australian novelist, short-story writer and journalist. The Spare Room marked her return to fiction 16 years since her last novel.

Despite the group’s alacrity at its return to face-to-face meetings, there were initial grumbles that we were once again discussing a book with a very sombre and ultimately tragic story. However, despite this, within the book a simple and resounding message seemed to shine through: the value of friendship and loyalty, which is sustained even when tested by deep-rooted and opposing internal belief systems.

Garner begins the novel with Helen meticulously preparing her spare room for the imminent arrival of her long-standing bohemian friend Nicola, who has travelled…

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