book cover of Absolutely Delicious

Absolutely Delicious

A non fiction book by

After a life marbled with exploration, academia, and domesticity, the writer Valerie Lester retired to a residential hospice and set about enjoying the final act of her life. Yes. Enjoying.She knew just where she wanted to be, with whom, doing what, and she communicated this to her family and friends with clarity and consistency. She died nine weeks later, having engaged in dying with equanimity, curiosity, and even amusement. In Absolutely Delicious, Valerie’s daughter, the novelist Alison Jean Lester, describes the roads leading to her mother’s cooperation with her terminal disease and her decision to forego treatments that might have prolonged her life, but also might have ruined her death. It is a story that illuminates the benefits of acceptance and the many gifts offered by daring to own one’s end.

The book encapsulates, in the very best way, how we ultimately consist of our relationships and effects on other people, and how dying can be a very beautiful event.
-- Kate Edgar, Executive Director, The Oliver Sacks Foundation

Absolutely Delicious is like a gift. It is tender, light-footed, funny, painful and gallant, and in writing with courage and wit about dying well, Lester has written about living well.
-- Nicci Gerrard, Novelist and author of What Dementia Teaches Us about Love

Compelling, moving, brave, and unflinching.
-- Neal Baer, MD, Producer and writer of ER, Law & Order Special Victims Unit and Designated Survivor

If you fear death or are in denial of the inevitable, this book is for you. Using the power of stories, poems, and art, Absolutely Delicious demonstrates with care and empathy the breadth of ways people can die on their own terms, and the impact that journey can have on their loved ones. Lester reminds the reader of the universality of death by offering an honest portrayal of three approaches to living one’s last days, providing the space for each of us to consider our own priorities, helping to pave the way toward realizing our own compassionate end.
-- Kim Callinan, President and CEO, Compassion & Choices

In chronicling her mother's terminal illness, Lester shows us something rare and wonderful: that facing the end of life can be done with directness, equanimity, and humor. As a palliative care physician I've read countless stories about dying patients but none as engaging and original as this, opening my eyes to what's possible for future patients and families I care for.
-- Jane deLima Thomas, MD, Palliative Care Physician, Harvard Medical School

This masterfully written and illustrated narrative arrives at a very important time, striking the bullseye dead on. It will resonate on many levels with readers, be they supporting someone dying, or dying themselves. A terrific read.
-- John K. Erban, MD. Professor of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Former Clinical and Assoc Director for Clinical Research, Tufts Medical Center Cancer Center

In this memoir, Lester thoughtfully captures the emotional roller coaster of the loss of two parents and one aunt. I practiced medicine for 31 years, but even so I learned and was touched, and, surprisingly, found great comfort in the way it helped me revisit, and reassess, the painful death of a close friend over a decade ago.
-- Thomas A. Tesoriero, MD, Retired Internist, Kaiser Permanente

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