As their relationship nears its tragic close, you sense Light’s reluctance to tell the story of Samuel’s last moments. So much modern memoir writing has a smoothed-over quality, as if it is indeed emotion recollected in tranquillity. That is very much not the case here. The poignancy of Raphael Samuel’s end is only matched in its intensity by Alison Light’s recognition of what she memorably calls ‘the human bargain’: that we give and receive love in exchange for death. This is a book that deserves to be widely read.