We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

All Things Consoled

On sale

3rd September 2020

Price: £8.99

Select a format

Selected: Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780857059130

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

Winner of the 2018 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Award for Non-fiction

A poignant, complex and hugely resonant memoir about the shift from being a daughter to a guardian and caregiver, by a prizewinning author.

“A tour de force. I am in awe of the sheer skill of this writing, the poignant truth of the smallest detail, the complexity of Hay’s understanding, and the potential this book has to change the way we see families and in our place inside them” RACHEL JOYCE, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

From Elizabeth Hay, one of Canada’s most celebrated novelists, comes a startling and beautiful memoir about the drama of her parents’ end, and the longer drama of being their daughter.

Jean and Gordon Hay were a formidable pair. She was an artist and superlatively frugal; he was a proud and principled schoolteacher with an explosive temper. Elizabeth, the so-called difficult child, always suspected she would end up caring for them in their final years, in part to atone for her childhood sins.

Philip Roth once said, “Old age is a massacre”. All Things Consoled takes you inside the massacre as Hay’s ferociously independent parents become increasingly dependent on her.

With remarkable wit and honesty, Hay lays bare the agony of a family coping as old age turns into the tragedy of living too long. In the end she arrives at a more nuanced understanding of her mother and father, and of herself as their daughter. They were and remain the two vivid giants in her life.


Quill and Quire.
This book is likely to break your heart, and it will definitely make you think about your own family in the context of ageing.
As a novel, this book would have been heartbreaking. But, being a memoir, it is 10 times more powerful. Those of us who have lived through similar experiences with ageing, ailing parents can discern the truth to Hay's book.
Hay has written about it all, with care and candour, in a remarkable memoir
Michael Redhill, author of Bellevue Square
Elizabeth Hay is a marvel. She honours her parents in this portrait of their final years. As steadfast a daughter as she is a writer, Hay writes with sometimes scalding authenticity about aging and the challenges that come with the end of a life, but she is never less than tender. I loved this moving memoir
Charlotte Gray, author of The Promise of Canada
Piercingly candid and exquisitely written, Elizabeth Hay's memoir describes the intensity of the love, uncertainty and exasperation triggered by her parents' dying. Yet there is humour here, too, even - especially - after the final goodbyes
C.B.C. Books
In All Things Consoled, Hay chronicles with breath-taking honesty the ravages of age and decline. She also shows how love, beauty and the sustenance of writing are a kind of balm for this reality of the human experience
Winnipeg Free Press
Poignant, poetic and sharply observed
Sarah Winman
It's sublime. Elizabeth Hay is such a masterful writer, I'm joyously in awe. She writes with such grace. There's not a word, image or emotion out of place. I felt as if I was reading the act of healing itself.
Alice Jolly, Times Literary Supplement.
Compelling . . . Hay's accounts of her parents' last days are luminous and moving.
Brian Maye, Irish Times
A moving, poignant, honest and beautifully written memoir.