What are the things we live for? What matters most in life when your time is short? This brave, frank and heartbreaking book shows what it means to die before your time; how to take charge of your life and fill it with wonder, hope and joy even in the face of tragedy.
Ambitious and talented, Kate Gross worked at Number 10 Downing Street for two British Prime Ministers whilst only in her twenties. At thirty, she was CEO of a charity working with fragile democracies in Africa. She had married 'the best looking man I've ever kissed' - and given birth to twin boys in 2008. The future was bright.
But aged 34, Kate was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. After a two-year battle with the disease, Kate died peacefully at home on Christmas morning, just ten minutes before her sons awoke to open their stockings.
She began to write as a gift to herself, a reminder that she could create even as her body began to self-destruct.
Written for those she loves,her book is not a conventional cancer memoir; nor is it filled with medical jargon or misery. Instead, it is Kate's powerful attempt to make sense of the woman who emerged in the strange, lucid final chunk of her life. Her book aspires to give hope and purpose to the lives of her readers even as her own life drew to its close.
Kate should have been granted decades to say all that she says in these pages. Denied the chance to bore her children and grandchildren with stories when she became fat and old, she offers us all her thoughts on how to live; on the wonder to be found in the everyday; the importance of friendship and love; what it means to die before your time and how to fill your life with hope and joy even in the face of tragedy.
"The book's power lies in the unflinching way she shares her life's lessons and how she rationalises what it's really like to be told 'you are going to die'… Her thoughts on friendship, family, love and loss preoccupied me for days … Hers is a voice that is clear and spirited from a woman who was funny, clever and wise" (Sunday Times)
"Late Fragments is neither a cancer chronicle nor a misery memoir. It is a book that shows you how to live life to the brim… boy, does [Kate's] writing have pulse. Clear-sighted and cold-eyed, her sentences are light as leaves and she was as wise as a magi… When [her twins] wonder about their mother, here she will be, bold and brave, caught on the page in all her wonderful vitality" (Mail on Sunday, 5*)
"A brave voice sings out of these pages … a fine epitaph for a life well lived, and one that ended too soon" (The Times)
"A gem - a wonderful, uplifting reflection on how to die and how to live… There is nothing tragic about its message which is a happy one, full of life's possibilities not its limitations. The lesson is that it is not the longevity of your life but the intensity of it which counts; that what you give lasts longer than what you take; and that if you contribute, even to the smallest degree to the betterment of humankind then you will not be a memory but a living and moving spirit that even after death can change the world around you. Such a spirit is Kate" (Tony Blair)
"Kate Gross writes with steadfast, exquisite skill and although this remarkable book is hard to get through without a box of hankies, it is also one of the most galvanising you are likely to read all year. She wanted to pass on the gift of wonder to her sons; her gift to her reader is to inspire them to live life with as much joy, hunger and gusto as she did" (Metro)
"Read it and leap. Late Fragments is so beautiful (Hadley Freeman)
"Late Fragments is more than a cancer memoir - it is also a superb manual for living. Highly recommended" (Matthew d'Ancona)
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