The story of an extraordinary childhood, a candid account of the cancer experience, and a paean to life in the face of loss.
When Genevieve Fox finds a lump in her throat, she turns up for the hospital diagnosis in a party frock and fancy hair. I can’t have cancer, she thinks, I’ve done my hair. But there is another reason she can’t countenance cancer. Genevieve was orphaned to it at the age of nine. She is in no mood for history to repeat itself, or to be lost to her own young children.
Genevieve weaves together stories of her cancer treatment with memories of her rackety, unconventional childhood. She confronts her treatment with the same sassy survival instinct that characterised her childhood misadventures. She draws on humour, friendship and dogged optimism to chart a course through her treatment, cancer etiquette and the unchartered territory of remission.
In this uplifting memoir, life’s precariousness is tackled head-on - and turned it on its head.
‘Delightful and moving… Fox’s writing brims with joie de vivre.
Alice O’Keefe, Spectator
‘An unexpectedly optimistic and at times funny story of hope, warmth, and the vitality of love’
Helena Lee, Harper’s Bazaar
‘Fox writes with an unsentimentality that is savage and addictive. There are passages of icy brilliance’
Helen Rumbelow, The Times
‘Fox is a brilliant storyteller and a beautiful writer.’
Anna van Praagh Evening Standard
‘Remarkably readable wit and flair… Fox has a magpie memory
for vintage detail.’
Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph
‘An honest and accessible account of navigating the unfamiliar terrain of ‘Planet Cancer’… This is a memoir about human vulnerability that stays the right side of bleak’
Rosie Wilby, Mail on Sunday
‘Candid and optimistic’
Fanny Blake, Woman & Home
‘An original and wonderful book’
Allison Pearson, The Sunday Telegraph
‘A witty, life-affirming book’
Valerie Grove, The Oldie
‘A cancer memoir with a difference…The book breaks new ground’
Sarah Crown, Guardian
‘A gutsy and compelling literary memoir by the former features editor of the Daily Telegraph of feeling the fear and ploughing onwards anyway’
‘Fox narrates with infections vivacity. A compelling and intimate portrayal of an excruciating illness’
Rabea Saleem, The National UAE
‘This spirited memoir weaves together stories of [Fox’s] unconventional orphan childhood with poignant reflections on motherhood, art and Literature.’
Lorna Bradbury, World of Cruising
‘Fox has achieved something remarkable: a memoir of orphanhood and cancer that is not especially melancholy. One roots for her as one does for a friend, but there is also an unexpected touch of the Mitfords in her funny, keen-eyed recollections. I loved it’
Sarah Perry, Author of The Essex Serpent
‘Generous, engaging and laugh-out-loud funny, Fox's memoir is a reminder that the willingness to share experience, good, bad, and sometimes bloody terrifying, is one of the best and most delicious parts of what makes us human’
‘Part journal, part pitch-black comedy, this extraordinary account of childhood abandonment and life-threatening illness is also a painfully intelligent meditation on vulnerability’
In my book, I talk about my two imaginary moodboards. The first concerns my childhood in America, where I lived until I was five with my mother, father, brother, sister, cat and car in New York and New Jersey. Some of the images are real, others are taken from memory.
I have a UK moodboard, too. The snapshots on this one are memories and a few real photographs from the first few years of our new life in the UK with our mother. Father does not feature in the real live photographs because he is dead.
Here are a few real photographs from one of my mother’s old family albums. I stole them from my aunt when I was a teenager. She had, for reasons known only to herself, purloined her twin sister’s photograph albums for herself.