The Last Act of Love

In the summer of 1990, Cathy’s brother Matty was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out. It was two weeks before his GCSE results, which turned out to be the best in his school. Sitting by his unconscious body in hospital, holding his hand and watching his heartbeat on the monitors, Cathy and her parents willed him to survive. They did not know then that there are many and various fates worse than death.

This is the story of what happened to Cathy and her brother, and the unimaginable decision that she and her parents had to make eight years after the night that changed everything. It’s a story for anyone who has ever watched someone suffer or lost someone they loved or lived through a painful time that left them forever changed. Told with boundless warmth and affection, The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink is a heartbreaking yet uplifting testament to a family’s survival and the price we pay for love.

This is a brilliant book. Harrowing and heartbreaking, but also warm and human and healing. It is about a rare kind of tragedy, but feels universal, as it is about love and loss and how we learn to live, in the face of what life throws at us. You may well cry, but you will feel better for having read it, which you absolutely must. A triumph of love.

Matt Haig, author of Reasons to Stay Alive

Beautiful, devastating and ultimately uplifting, intimate and universal all at once . . . Cathy Rentzenbrink has found a way to express the things that all of us wrestle with at times – knowing how to live and taking the risk to love; facing what has damaged us, and owning it as much as a person can.

Jessie Burton, author of The Miniaturist

Devastatingly honest and heartbreakingly raw, The Last Act of Love is not simply a book about grief or love or a family’s unstinting hope to do the best for their son and brother. It’s a book about courage. About the courage to face reality even at its most bleak. And for all the book’s sadness it is, ultimately, a book about hope: about how even the darkest tunnels have a glimmer of light beckoning you at the other end. I defy anyone not to be moved by this remarkable and brave story.

Hannah Beckerman, author of The Dead Wife’s Handbook

Brilliant. Moving, warm, agonising, unputdownable. One of the best memoirs I’ve read.

Sophie Hannah, author of The Carrier

This is a touching and brave book, heartbreaking yet beautiful.

S J Watson, author of Before I Go To Sleep

Incredible powerful… The love that wraps itself around the pain and never goes away is what kept me turning the pages so quickly.

Rebecca Wait, author of The View on the Way Down

This lovely, tender, painful book speaks for anyone who has suffered loss, on a scale from minor to cataclysmic . . . which pretty well means us all.

Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Extraordinary . . . An honest, heartbreaking, uplifting account of family tragedy. Read it.

Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You

I never knew a story of grief could have so much joy in it.

Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina

There are only two ways that this book will be read: devoured in the middle of the night in one sitting, or eeked out, only a few pages a day because the feelings it prompts are simply too intense. Either way, it will both stick with you, and have you grabbing the forearm of whoever asks you what to read next intensely, so they *know* how great this is. This sounds as if it’s a book about death, or grief, but it’s really a gobsmacking memoir about family, and love. Truly, it will inspire you to be your very best self for a long time after the final page.

Alexandra Heminsley, The Debrief

The Last Act of Love by @CathyReadsBooks is full of great love and honesty about the complex heartbreak of a long death. A stunning book.

Sarah Moore Fitzgerald @SMooreFitz

Last night I read @CathyReadsBooks’ The Last Act of Love until the small hours. Utterly transfixing. So brave and so loving. An amazing book.

Emylia Hall @EmliaHall

Last night, up till 3am with @CathyReadsBooks’s Last Act of Love. One of the most intimate books I’ve ever read. Sad, gripping, brilliant.

Shelley Harris @shelleywriter

By a pool in Provence and @CathyReadsBooks just made me cry! #TheLastActOfLove is a stunning book about love and heartbreak but mostly love.

Tammy Cohen @MsTamarCohen

@CathyReadsBooks’s The Last Act of Love has made me weep, sob and cry. But also laugh out loud & conjure my own sibling memories.

Nikki Bedi @nikkibedi


Up v.late reading #TheLastActOfLove @CathyReadsBooks – compelling depiction of sorrow & stoicism in face of tragedy.

Carys Bray @CarysBray

@CathyReadsBooks v belatedly inhaled your lovely memoir cover to cover on a flight. Heart-stoppingly moving and oh so brave. ❤️

Sam Baker @SamBaker

Brave, sad, raw, incredibly compelling: The Last Act Of Love from @picadorbooks better win some nice shiny awards.

Charlotte Heathcote @CharlHeathcote

Here are few lovely pics I’ve been sent:

LOVE art Edin
Art work from Waterstones,  Edinburgh
Hemel Stand
Waterstones, Hemel Hempstead
PB LOve TRafford
Waterstones, Trafford Centre


Last Act of Love footer

I am so pleased with the beautiful cover my publishers, Picador, have designed.

It was an incredible moment to hold a finished copy for the first time and here are some photos:


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