Undying: A Love Story (2016): Michel Faber


In late ’88, not knowing how lucky I was, / I met a woman who would die of cancer.’ So begins Michel Faber’s Lucky, one of the first poems in this collection written during and after the death of his beloved wife Eva from cancer in June 2014. It’s hard to know what to say: to even read these poems feels like intruding on a raw, agonising grief. To try to review them feels like an insult. How can you review expressions of grief and loss? How can I possibly give fewer than five stars, as if suggesting that Faber’s agony somehow wasn’t quite enough? And yet I did want to write about Undying because, as a collection, this is a very necessary book. Taken together, the poems explore every heartbreaking angle of bereavement in a simple narrative that progresses from diagnosis through treatment and remission, to death and then the dreadful aftermath: the terrifying challenge of trying to rebuild a life without the one you most love by your side.

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