A Desire for Dignity in Death
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By the end of this book, Eudora Honeysett gets exactly what she deserves! And I mean this in the kindest of ways and with some rejoicing.
Eudora Honeysett is an 85-year-old woman in London who has had a difficult life and is quite ready to be done with it. The book opens as she receives a packet of information in the mail, a packet she requested, from the Klinik Lebenswahl in Switzerland. This clinic offers “choice and dignity in death as in life.” Eudora’s plan is to book herself there for a voluntary assisted death.
At almost the exact moment the packet falls through her mail slot, there is a knock at her door as new neighbors come to introduce themselves. Eudora is never rude, so she opens the door to them even though she’d prefer to read her mail. Thus she meets ten-year-old Rose and her very pregnant mom, Maggie. Rose is dressed in “a cherry-red T-shirt calamitously teamed with a purple ra-ra skirt.” Her personality is equally over the top.
We eventually learn that Rose’s idiosyncrasies brought out the bullies in her former school, so the family has moved in order for her to have a fresh start. Friendless, she turns to Eudora and to another elderly neighbor, Stanley, for companionship. Stanley is a recent widower who is a few years younger than Eudora.
Because Eudora is always polite and proper, she agrees to activities that Stanley and Rose suggest and, in this way, they are able to make inroads into her prickly personality. The three become friends.
In alternating chapters, the author advances this friendship while offering information about Eudora’s life. The first such chapter is dated 1940. Eudora is seven years old, and her father is about to go off to war. He tasks her with watching over her mother and soon-to-be-born sister. Eudora adores her father, and agrees to help out, taking her promise very seriously. But when he dies in the war, her commitment to this task becomes a serious detriment to her own happiness.
The sister, Stella, grows into an evil young woman, while the mother never recovers from the loss of her husband. Meanwhile, Eudora spends all her life making good on her promise to her dad. She never marries. She never has children. Indeed, every time she finds love it is snatched away by Stella or her mother.
And then there was Rose.
It becomes a race against time as Eudora submits her application to the Klinik and works to get it approved while Rose, Stanley, Maggie and others – without knowing about the Klinik – work to show her other options.
Now it’s time to read my opening line again and smile. Read the book to beam.
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