A good, solid life-threatening illness can be the making of a writer. This has certainly been the case for Genevieve Fox, a long-serving journalist, whose delightful and moving first book Milkshakes and Morphine was inspired by a diagnosis of head and neck cancer. The illness, though treatable, is just as grim as it sounds: she pulls no punches in describing the horror of breaking the news to her husband and teenage sons, of losing the ability to eat, talk or swallow, and of radiotherapy, which sounds like torture.
Despite all that, Fox’s writing brims with joie de vivre. She is a person with a healthy appreciation of nice things; she wears top-to-toe sequins for her MRI scan, completely redecorates her bedroom in preparation for her convalescence, and expresses horror than anyone would drink prosecco when they could have champagne.