This Shining Life by Harriet Kline

For Rich, life is golden.

He fizzes with happiness and love.

But Rich has an incurable brain tumour.

When Rich dies, he leaves behind a family without a father, a husband, a son and a best friend. His wife, Ruth, can’t imagine living without him and finds herself faced with a grief she’s not sure she can find her way through.

At the same time, their young son Ollie becomes intent on working out the meaning of life. Because everything happens for a reason. Doesn’t it?

But when they discover a mismatched collection of presents left by Rich for his loved ones, it provides a puzzle for them to solve, one that will help Ruth navigate her sorrow and help Ollie come to terms with what’s happened. Together, they will learn to lay the ghosts of the past to rest, and treasure the true gift that Rich has left them: the ability to embrace life and love every moment.

Wonderfully funny and achingly beautiful, this is a story about love in all its forms: absent, lost and, ultimately, regained.

My Thoughts


This Shining Life is a bitter sweet story about grief and loss, combined with life and living too. Richard – better known as Rich to his friends, A young man who is both a husband and a father receives the devastating news that he has an incurable brain tumour and has very little time left. Rich is one of the happiest, most joyful characters who loves spending time with his family and friends, and brings light to so many peoples lives.

The weeks following Rich’s diagnosis, soon followed by his death, allow us an insight as to how his passing impacts upon his devoted wife Ruth and their son Ollie, who is autistic. We also see the wider impact upon Rich’s mother and father, and Ruth’s parents too, alongside the grief his friends carry.

Ruth finds herself being pulled in to a deep depression following the loss of her husband, and is struggling to deal with Ollie’s rituals. Rich was always the one who dealt with these situations, and could turn a meltdown in to a laughing fit within minutes. On top of this, Ollie is wondering what death actually means, as he tries to come to terms with his father’s death too.

Before Rich passed away, he spent a long time choosing presents for those he loves most to remember him by, and enlisted the help of Ollie to help him post them. As the gifts begin to arrive, Ollie believes that they are part of a puzzle that his dad has left for him, something to help him discover and fully understand the secret of life.

Rich’s death forces this cast of characters to take a long, hard look at how they treat one another, and shows them how to be more forgiving of one another, as after all nobody is perfect.

This book certainly takes you through a range of emotions. Despite the general underlying theme being devastatingly sad and heart breaking from the start, there are moments of sheer joy and light that shine through as the story progresses. Each of the characters are wonderfully developed and have their own flaws and troubles to face, and these unique personalities play a part in the various ways the central characters often misunderstand one another. The story flows beautifully and has you invested until the very end.

About the Author

HARRIET KLINE works part time registering births, deaths and marriages and writes for the rest of the week. Her story Ghost won the Hissac Short Story Competition and Chest of Drawers won The London Magazine Short Story Competition. Other short stories have been published online with LitroFor Books’ Sake, and ShortStorySunday, and on BBC Radio 4

*Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, Doubleday Books and Harriet Kline for providing me with a gifted copy of this book in return for my honest review. All thoughts are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.*

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