REVIEW: Late Fragments: Everything I Want To Tell You About This Magnificent Life - Kate Gross

"The most honest, beautiful, heart wrenching and eye opening book I’ve ever read. I will keep reminding myself of Kate Gross’s words and her story" - Fearne Cotton

Kate Gross died on Christmas Morning 2014 when she was a mere thirty-six years of age. If that isn't heartbreaking enough, cancer stole her from her two young sons and husband. Yet, before she died Kate got herself organised and wrote a book for her boys Oscar and Isaac, titled Late Fragments.

Late Fragments opens with Kate knowing she has stage four cancer. She discusses her illness, and I won't give that part away, I'll just talk about the book as a whole - because it's more than a cancer memoir. 

Kate Gross with husband Billy and sons Oscar and Isaac
Photo Credit: The Times

The distinct personality which shines through Late Fragments is what makes it so undeniably beautiful. Kate was a control-freak, obsessed with organisation and so brutally, hilariously honest. The way she highlighted the tragedy of her illness as well as the faults in her own behaviour made her book so personal and in that way I felt connected to her. 

I can't imagine what it must be like to experience cancer, yet the empathy I have comes from the history of having a mum with cancer and lying awake at night imagining how my life would fall apart without her. Thankfully, my mum made it through and reading Kate's story, of a woman knowing that she won't is heart-breaking. There's the panic that she won't be there to keep everything in order, that things will go wrong without her, that someone will take her place, perhaps.

An alternative book cover
Photo Credit:

But it's not all doom and gloom. I loved how Kate highlighted the wonder and the beauty in the world, how being alive is being both grumpy and full of joy. I enjoyed her writings on travel, of all she saw and experienced and it warmed me to think that she'd had a wonderful and happy life to that point.

It also made me question the choices I make. Kate had a career working for Tony Blair and later set up an organisation to better the governance of African countries and she felt utterly fulfilled. Yet, she also spoke about the balance between work and family, and how when life is short you begin to realise that the mundane tasks in life like sending emails really aren't that important. Life choices are more than just mundane things to get us by, to get some cash, to tick the boxes, they define who we are and what kind of life we have.

When you know you have to say goodbye to someone you love, you know you can't fit everything into a series of words, and while Late Fragments somewhat does that, it also emphasises how it's the emotion that seeps through the words that really matters.

Let me know if you've read this book and what you thought of it. If you're interested in getting hold of a copy you can buy one here.

Love, Jess

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