The Very Last List of Vivian Walker by Megan Albany
I cried reading this debut novel. I also laughed and despaired. Vivian Walker’s life is exceptionally ordinary. She is married, has a son and has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She is dying and before she goes, she is desperate to finish all those tasks around the home that she has wanted to complete. Now seems the time.
I would like to imagine that if given a similar diagnosis, I would take the time to reflect and create, but I am also sure that the physicality of life would hit me in the same manner it’s portrayed here. The fridge and playroom need sorting and cleaning. The list of practical concerns become as important as ensuring a successful date night with her husband. Vivian Walker is a control freak, and a list of tasks is the only power she has left. It is for this reason that I was filled with despair. Will the responsibility of a tidy home ever really change for women? Even if they are dying?
Told in an impassive manner, and in the first person, this book takes us all the way to the end of Vivian’s life. Vivian is thankfully not saccharine, but pragmatic, and very tired. This is not a novel full of fancy considerations, but a heartfelt examination of how to say goodbye. It’s the type of novel that you’ll read quickly and that will compel you to find your family and hold them tight, once you’ve composed yourself. Read it and you’ll decide then and there, to never be concerned about the pile of washing in the corner.