Listen free for 30 days

The Last Act of Love

Narrated by: Jenny Funnell
Length: 6 hrs and 34 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (242 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

In the summer of 1990, Cathy's brother, Matty, was knocked down by a car on the way home from a night out, two weeks before receiving his GCSE results. 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 fates worse than death.

©2014 Cathy Rentzenbrink (P)2015 W F Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"I never knew a story of grief could have so much joy in it." (Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    146
  • 4 Stars
    58
  • 3 Stars
    26
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    152
  • 4 Stars
    44
  • 3 Stars
    16
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    5

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    139
  • 4 Stars
    51
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    7

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Heartbreaking

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The fact that this is a true story, as told by his sister, means that there is a level of honesty and detail that you would not normally get. It's not just an account of what happened to Matty, it's about the devastating impact his accident had on his family.

Was The Last Act of Love worth the listening time?

I think so. It's a hard listen, not a book I am likely to listen to again, I was glad when it came to an end.

Any additional comments?

I can't say that I enjoyed this book, I don't think it's that kind of story. It's heartfelt and sincere yet harrowing and painful. It's well written and describes their journey in detail

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful, beautiful story full of compassion

What did you like most about The Last Act of Love?

Beautifully account of the love Cathy has for her brother and the wonderful relationships she and her entire family share.

What did you like best about this story?

Recounting the stories of the childhood with her brother and his wonderful personality

Have you listened to any of Jenny Funnell’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Not yet but she read beautifully.

Any additional comments?

Loved this book and as a volunteer in a hospice this book gave me great insights into the grieving process. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. I was deeply moved by this book and Cathy did a wonderful job in writing it.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Honest and Moving

An honest and moving account. important to read for anyone who faces losing a loved one and especially in this situation. well narrated on audible.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

very poignant and I shed a few tears

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Definitely would recommend a true account of how a family's life can change in seconds.

What did you like best about this story?

The honesty of the author

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

What would you do?

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Life Enhancing, unlike Carl’s ONE star review.

OMG, Carl Charlesworth, shame on you, a shame on your review.
You title your mean-spirited review “unbelievably tedious and repetitive”. Why on God’s earth did you persist with the book then and share your poisonous thoughts with us and possibly with Cathy Rentzenbrink? Your review is an insult to Mattie’s memory and Cathy’s immense bravery and her lucid honesty in recounting her hugely important and deeply personal experience.

Shame on you Carl C. Please keep your nasty views to yourself in future or at least express your legitimate personal experiences of this book in a more respectful fashion (unlike me in my response to your ONE STAR (!!) review).

There is indeed no accounting for taste, or for masochists who continue listening to hours of someone’s pain and their awful journey back into the light - to then complain petulantly about how awful they found the whole experience!

This IS a hard listen, but so trifling in comparison to those 8 YEARS of caring for Mattie’s physical body, and the decade or more of coming to terms with letting ‘him’ go, or at least the flesh that survived his passing on that road in the night. That is surely when his soul or what I might call his self-hood departed?

This is an inspiring and important book.
I HAVE enjoyed very long stretches of it though it has been a very hard listen too.

But boy, have I been enriched by knowing Mattie, his granite-strong Dad, his incredibly caring and inspiring Mum, and his extraordinarily clever, humane, loving and insightful sister, Cathy.

This evolves into Cathy’s life story and her evisceration of her own complicated grief; her life-long bereavement; and her unbelievably hard-won recovery from depression and self-blame. It ends as a love-letter to Mattie, as it starts.

It is an inspiration to others, surely especially to those who have got mired in their own endlessly torturing experiences of loss and guilt.

Thank-you Cathy. You have deeply enriched my life by sharing yours, and Mattie’s, and a part of your parents’ experiences.

I do so wish you and your lucky son Mat, and especially your incredible parents, the peace and equanimity that Mattie has finally achieved through your combined final act of love.

Incredibly honest.

Beautiful.

A fitting tribute to your brother, and to the profound love and humanity that so many of us aspire to.

Thank you.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

When I first heard this book existed, I wondered how it could come about that you would kill your own brother or son, not realising that in reality, the young man who was Cathy Rentzenbrink's brother was being kept alive somewhat artificially, and really not having any kind of quality of life, despite his family's absolute best efforts. If you're interested in the workings of familial love, moral dilemmas and the punishing effects of trauma, you'll enjoy this book. Small parts are, dare a say, a little tedious, like the end chapter - one gets the impression that Retzenbrink still feels an immense amount of guilt and wants to show, to herself as much as anyone else, that she really did love her brother and did what she thought was best for him. Of course she did. What shines through this book is the love that she and her family had and have for Mattie and how much they cherished him and wanted him alive. Most of the book is a captivating insight into the family dynamics, thought-processes, practicalities and most of all fluctuating, difficult feelings that come with caring for a person in a persistent vegitative state. The only tedium comes at the end, and not because the conclusion is, as you'd expect, that there isn't much conclusion - time heals a little, but grief is ever-present. The tedium is that one wants to meet Cathy and say 'I know you can't stop yourself from feeling sad, but objectively, you shouldn't feel guilty. You really did do right by your brother'. Cathy, if you're reading, you're an inspiration!

Also, great narrator!

EDIT: I've been thinking about this book and my review a lot, which shows how good it is! 'Tedious' was maybe too strong a word, and in a way what i found tedious did give a good sense of what it's like to experience trauma - the boredom of feeling guilty all the time, about everything.

'Fascinating' as a title is apt, but it is also avery moving and insightful book.

Lastly, although I accused Retzenbrink of seeking approval in her ending, it's not for me or other readers to give it - maybe something she knows and certainly something I've taken away from the book upon reflection.

Anyway, super-long review - in short, listen to this book!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful, touching, honest.

Cathy Rentzenbrink has beautifully told her sad tale with humour punctuating it and a warmth that shines through continually making hers a moving, honest, account of personal trauma. Perfectly done.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Honest & Heartbreaking

I listened to this in two sittings. It is a remarkably honesty and insightful account of life changing love, loss and grief. You cannot listen/read this without being moved and maybe touched, or even disturbed, as you perhaps reflect upon things deep down in yourself.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

What a great storyline

This book is so good, you are kept on the edge of your seat, you will also shed a few tears and feel the deep pain , and wonder why it happened , it's unjust

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected but not disappointing either

I didn't fully read the blurb before downloading this book and so was intrigued enough by the theme of the story.

About 2 hours in I got a little more intrigued and took another look and read a few reviews which didn't paint it in the nicest light at all but made me realise that this was a true story.

This tale of the love of siblings and the crippling pain of not grieving over many years and the full impact of what eventually happened was a good story made great by the passionate, honest and plain realness of the telling.

I enjoyed the story. I feel sadness that something like this happened and the effects that it had on all of the loved ones surrounding Matty. I feel honoured that the story was shared.

Thank you.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful