On the Life and Death of My Brother

Book - 2013
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A Globe & Mail 100 Selection

Helen Humphreys' younger brother was gone before she could come to terms with the fact that he had terminal cancer. Diagnosed with stage 4B pancreatic cancer at the age of forty-five, he died four months later, leaving behind a grieving family. Martin was an extraordinary pianist who debuted at the Royal Festival Hall in London at the age of twenty, later becoming a piano teacher and senior examiner at the Royal Conservatory of Music. The two siblings, though often living far apart, were bonded on many levels.

Now Humphreys has written a deeply felt, haunting memoir both about and for her brother. Speaking directly to him, she lays bare their secrets, their disagreements, their early childhood together, their intense though unspoken love for each other. A memoir of grief, an honest self-examination in the face of profound pain, this poetic, candid and intimate book is an offering not only to the memory of Martin but to all those who are living through the death of family and friends.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins Canada, c2013.
ISBN: 9781443415453
Branch Call Number: 921 HUMPH-H


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Jun 02, 2014

clear, evocative writer, had not realized her facility with both language and style

Dec 17, 2013

Hamilton Book Club choice for March 19th/14 at Freeway café, King St. & Wellington St. at 7:15 pm.

loveablelibrarian Dec 04, 2013

Quite a moving portrait of the love shared between siblings.

Sep 28, 2013

A contemplation of existence, grief, and the solitary nature of creative work.

May 17, 2013

This is indeed a haunting and moving book that reveals the depth of grief the author still feels for her famous pianist brother Martin Humphreys. Her style is an ongoing conversation with him, and it clearly conveys the ongoing repeating stages of grief. No one truly ever overcomes missing someone who has died; we simply learn to live with cherishing their memory. Well done.


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Sep 28, 2013

Everything becomes a memorial. This wooden chair is a memorial to that tree.

melwyk Jul 03, 2013

At the end, we are all far from home. We are far from home, and what we hope for is that someone will fashion us a light, so that we too will not have to wake in darkness.

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