This is a touching and candid story of a marriage during its duration and its aftermath written in first-person and providing a remarkably well-detailed depiction... The writing is concise with terse phrasing and good use of interior monologue. The dialogue is credible, sometime painfully so with its poignant treatment of feelings during a drawn out but losing battle.... The narrative has vivid and graphic depictions of various diagnoses, treatments including chemotherapy, drugs, and medical terminology that are immensely sobering. Character development is outstanding. Both husband and wife come across as strong and sentient characters caught in a whirlpool of intractable health problems while dealing with the difficulties of real estate decisions. Throughout the true story, the author's mind-set presents many key philosophical thoughts and questions. Poems enhance the sensitive material. Photos and black line illustrations are good touches. Production quality and cover design are outstanding.
~ Writer's Digest
It was the best and most original thing I've read in a long time.
~ Larry Zimmerman, author of the Amston Lake mystery series
...the book hooked me from the introduction and I loved the writing. It read like a novel (to me that’s a compliment)—and in some ways I wish it were fiction as then these events would not actually have happened to Claudia and Patrick. It was hard to read knowing these were real people and how life is so unfair and cruel—even though we all know that.
~ Beth Schwaner
- I have never before read a book where I knew the ending but was so immersed in the journey toward the final page that I lost perspective of time. The author shares a large piece of his life at such a raw emotional and spiritual level that I felt like a reluctant voyeur witnessing his inner pain at loss and his struggle to live. He shares his love and passion for the courageous Claudia, and allows the reader to meet and share "Claudia and Patrick". His honesty makes this a healing journey for the reader as well, as it is a book about life and love. Isn't that what it's all about? There was so much to absorb in these 388 pages that I know I will return whenever I need a reminder of what's important on this earth. I will recommend this book to everyone....
~ Dr. A Coyle, Clinical Psychologist
- Anyone who has experienced loss can relate to this astounding and touching story and will want to join the author's journey of one of the most original books that has been written on this subject in a long time.
~ Patricia Jensen, Librarian
- Profound and provocative---one of the best books you will ever read! ....Patrick Smith is one of the most gifted and talented writers you will ever read----he belongs with the best in literature. His extraordinary story telling ability and exquisite use of language is at the highest level. This evocative book will make you think and pause to reflect on the meaning of life, suffering, love at its deepest levels and our ultimate purpose in being here. A treasure of a book to return to many times....
~ JMOP (Amazon review, verified purchase)
- Powerful and Honest: Leaving the Life is one of the most poignant books that I have read, a transparent rendering of the author's own experiences during his wife's illness and death. We journey with Patrick and Claudia through the medical and family and community systems as they face and fight her cancer together. I have already recommended this book to a person who is grieving the death of his wife, but I equally recommend it to any who are interested in the human response to death and loss, and the journey through grief to hope.
~ Jonathan S,
Chaplain (Bereavement counselor)
- Piercingly personal, intimate, haunting... The baring of a soul. A declaration of the human spirit-undeniably weak yet impossibly strong.
- An unbelievably candid, emotional and deeply felt declaration of love. There just aren't words to describe my feelings after reading this book. You know what is coming long before you get there, but the candor, and love of the author for his wife, makes "Leaving the Life" a very special book. While I found the story heart-breaking for both of them, I was amazed with Patrick Smith's ability to draw the reader into his life, and to share his emotions so vividly. No one should ever have to experience what he and his beloved Claudia lived with for way too long. But at the same time, how lucky, for lack of a better word, she was to have him for her life's partner. I know very few men, or women, who would have been as dedicated, or acted as selflessly, during such a horrendous and difficult time.
~ Kathryn Dews
- I couldn't put this book down. Am going through a similar situation with an ill husband and it opened my eyes on so many levels. If you are living with and taking care of a sick spouse, this is a MUST read.
- Leaving the Life: A True Story of Love, Loss, and Gratitude is one of those books that will stay with me for a long, long time. I really felt as though I were taking this journey with Patrick as I read his skillfully crafted, profoundly moving account of how one couple struggled to cope with the life-altering diagnosis .... This heartfelt account of Patrick as caregiver as Claudia's disease progressed gave new meaning to utter selflessness. Clearly, the emotional cost was overwhelming, and my heart ached for Patrick as he went through the grieving process - all the while wondering, will this ever end? ....But eventually he was able to see a tiny light at the end of a very long tunnel and find a chance for happiness once again. This amazing book is at once painful, tragic, insightful, and finally, hopeful. It is beyond a doubt one of the best works I've read in a long time. Kudos to Patrick Smith for having the courage to share his story with us.
~ Nancy Feagans
- Both the writing and the story compelled me to read this book twice. it is extraordinarily moving and profound.
This book was beautifully written, extremely moving and very insightful. I felt like the author was talking to me and baring his soul. Although at times it seemed as if I was watching a train wreck, I still couldn't put it down. I loved reading about Patrick and Claudia's life together and how they handled the horror of her diagnosis. This is a sad, but beautiful love story. I was so impressed with the strength and bravery that both Claudia and Patrick exhibited throughout such a difficult time. This really gave me a much better understanding of what people dealing with a serious illness go through. I loved the surprise ending. Reading this book really made me think and has helped me put things in perspective, to see what is truly important in life!
~ Karen Chapuis
- It's f**king great! He should hurry up and finish his next book!"
~ John Gallagher, owner of a construction company. (He hasn't read a book since Jurassic Park.)
- I can't begin to tell you how profoundly it moved me - it was elegaic, heartbreaking, bittersweet and touching beyond measure.
~ Edmee R.
- Finding the right book for a book group can be both frustrating and challenging. Leaving the Life: A true story of love, loss and gratitude offered us an opportunity to introduce members to an author and book that most were unfamiliar with. It is a good book for discussion because it is well written and explores basic human truths. The three-dimensional characters are dealing with life issues any reader can relate to. The manner in which the tale is told creates a profound sense of kinship between reader and writer. You will feel as if you know these people. You will see inside their hearts and minds, as they are forced to make difficult choices under difficult circumstances. This haunting memoir will insinuate itself into your experience with its heart-wrenching story and thought-provoking perspectives.
~ KG of The Senexet Book Club
- I'm a planner. I like to be prepared. For everything, including the death of a beloved. So I've read Calvin Trillin's About Alice, Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking and a few others. For me, Patrick M. L. Smith's Leaving the Life: A True Story of Love, Loss and Gratitude belongs in the company of those exceptional books. Smith is a gifted writer of crystalline style and keen intelligence, incisive and unsentimental. His memoir begins, "Without story, there is no meaning," and then he tells us his: an intimate account of a searing experience that is also a riveting page-turner. I highly recommend Smith's deeply moving tribute to the irresistible Claudia, "Lady of the Shell," whose husband loved her so dearly, cared for her so magnificently and has written about her so exquisitely.
~ Patricia Sterling
I don't have words to express my gratitude, my awe, not only for what you have lived through, but the elegant humanity of your writing. You take us with you into the dark terror of a living hell, without ever losing your humanity or Claudia's dignity. I am moved to tears.
~ Lisa Davidson
It was heart wrenching, beautiful, inspiring and humbling. I marveled at the author's deep thoughtfulness and use of the English language - a true "wordSmith." ...a captivating, painful, tragic story, yet he was able to connect with the reader in a deep, profound life-affirming way.... I believe Smith has found the secret of life and his book deserves a place on everyone's bookshelf or Kindle.
~ Laurel Martin, author of Searching for Home
Touching.... this book takes you deep into Patrick and Claudia's sorrow and pain...beautifully written and highly recommended.
~ Nikalette, oncology and hospice nurse and witness to grief
I read [most of] the manuscript in one sitting, with only a break for lunch. I wish I could say I loved it, but I hated it. I hated reading about two people ...having their lives torn apart.... It has made me question my somewhat solitary and self-directed existence.... [The book] made me do some thinking, although (or because?) it was somewhat disturbing. Perhaps this is what good writing is all about.....
~ Alan D, reader
It read like a thriller. I was moved, touched... Parts were ridiculous and funny, brilliant, with brutal clarity. I found it honest, sincere, raw, believable, well-written, from the heart.
~ Reva Seybolt, Hands-on Healer
Patrick writes in a visceral way.... It is intensely personal, which really draws the reader in.... It is a personal odyssey - would definitely appeal to those who have loved and lost, have had to deal with tragic, senseless life circumstances .... at this point in my life, I find it both depressing and uplifting - almost opposite emotions - and strangely compelling....
~ Kim Reed, reader
- As a former Hospice care giver, I think this book would be helpful to anyone regardless of where they are on this journey. Patrick .Smith surely has helped others by sharing his most intimate thoughts..... Because it is so honest, it can be a tough read. But, here lies its strength.
~ Anne T.
Patrick is wonderful.
From time to time everyone crosses paths with someone in life, typically a stranger, in the throes of a terminal illness. This book offers the opportunity to get as close to living the experience from start to finish as you will hope you'll ever have to. A moving depiction of the physical and mental anguish brought about by a painful and terminal illness and its affects on both members of a loving marriage. To see Patrick emerge at the other end of the long dark tunnel and how he survives the mental anguish is a heartwarming and inspiring ending.
~ Bill D
- A quirky but moving memoir that describes the author's voyage into sorrow. ...It's a tale of the human condition, really, and because it is well written and original, it is really good. I loved it, especially the sense of place it evokes. I feel I have visited the two houses they bought and fixed up and have watched the eagles on the lake and the hummingbirds at the feeder, teeny mythic creatures the author uses to explain his suspicions of how life works.
~ Natalie M B
- ...sometimes I feel ashamed that I am struggling with it all, and wish I were more patient or valuable or valid or naturally better. And it helps to hear the truth that is going on in another being's life. If you are dealing with the hard turns of [a serious illness], this book will help. In just that same way. I believe you will feel the truth of a decent man's struggles and thus find you own path, not his, but yours. ....
~ Samuel L
- I was immediately drawn into this most intimate and honest account of a husband and wife whose world comes crashing down with a diagnosis of a [serious]l illness. It is a must read for anyone who is facing or has ever been faced with a similar fate. .... Not only is it a heartrending love story, but Leaving the Life: A true story of love, loss and gratitude is about living one's life with selfless dedication to the present and to those that we love. It is about bravery, determination, choices, and constant reflection. ... The author gives the reader a true glimpse into his private world as he and his wife confront the greatest hardship of their married lives. And yet, there is a hope-filled, happy ending as the author learns to transcend his feelings of despair and suffering.
~ Jennifer J, Nurse
- Thank you for sharing your story with strength, courage and "human-ness"
~ Judie, Hospice worker
- The book left me speechless and amazed.
~ Beverly S.
- ...a life changing book about a life changing experience. Smith's electric choice of words crackles across every page. ...I have read many paragraphs and sentences over and over trying to absorb their images and ruffled edges....
~ Catherine S.
- This beautifully written book is a true love story, as Patrick and his beloved wife sufferred together....The sadeness was such that I found myself praying for them and could hardly wait to read it if only a few pages almost every night before bed.
~ Mary G., widow
- Since my best friend of 25 years died after 5 years trying to live with colon cancer, I have been reading many books trying to understand what others have gone through, both from the patient's view and from the caretaker's view. This book is a soulful and beautiful account of that type of journey.... It is hard for me to fully describe how complete this story is - covering the medical, the mental, and the emotional from each side of the disease. ....My favorite line from this book is "Love - because the rest of life is nonsense." How utterly true.
- This book is profound and your writing is exquisite!! I only have two favorite books and this has become one of them. I have highlighted numerous sentences ....
~ Barbara C
- Every once in awhile a book comes along that changes your life.... This book is a must read for anyone dealing with loss or personal tragedy. ...Patrick is a wonderful writer who creates a picture in the mind of the reader - one of loss and sadness but hope in the end.
~ Claire Folini
- Painfully good. I could not put this book down. It is written with brutal honesty. Written by the husband/caregiver yet you feel the love and pains of both.So touching ... .Every step Claudia took , Patrick took also, but one thing the disease could not destroy was the love they had for each other.
~ Anonymous reviewer
- A book for anyone dealing with loss. The author puts in words...the unexplainable.
~ Pam Block
Two words: Powerful and Painful.
Reading Leaving the Life: A true story of love, loss and gratitude changed the way I think about life, love, marriage, health, pain, and loss. My own husband died suddenly, and for the first time, I believed he was one of the lucky ones. Most books fizzle out at the end - the surprise ending of this one was as good as the beginning.The book is beautifully written, with poetry on every page. I savored every turn of phrase, and read many passages over and over. It made me laugh and cry. I fell in love.
~ Bet Zimmerman, Journalist and blogger (Cragman.com)