This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.
Martha told Patrick before they got married that she didn’t want to have children. He said he didn’t mind either way because he has loved her since he was fourteen and making her happy is all that matters, although he does not seem able to do it.
By the time Martha finds out what is wrong, it doesn’t really matter anymore. It is too late to get the only thing she has ever wanted. Or maybe it will turn out that you can stop loving someone and start again from nothing – if you can find something else to want.
This book isn’t one I’d necessarily pick up, but after hearing it has tones of Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts (which I adored!), I really wanted to give it a go. I picked up the audiobook for this one and I really enjoyed it, and the narrator really engaged me.
This book focuses massively on mental health and an undiagnosed mental illness that is never named in the book. This mental illness has a massive impact on the main characters life, but it doesn’t detract from the rest of the story either. I still found it super interesting to read about Martha’s family, friendships and relationship with her husband Patrick.
Everything is broken and messed up and completely fine.
I also want to point out that this book is really funny. It’s deeply, darkly, richly funny, but funny all the same. There are lines that have stayed with me since I read it almost a month ago, that stood out and I still chuckle at and repeat to people. Not only does this remind me how much I enjoyed this book, but it gives me so many chances to recommend this book to others because I do still recommend this one a lot.
Although I didn’t have many issues with this book, one of my major issues was the diagnosis itself. I didn’t, and still don’t quite, know how to feel about it. It is very natural to want to know what the diagnosis is, and I felt the same while reading it. I think it’s really important that this book does contain elements of a lot of mental illnesses because readers can see themselves in Martha, but I also feel like this book walked a fine line between building on a stigma that already exists.
There is a big element of this diagnosis that talks about the stigma surrounding Martha’s mental illness. And I feel like the best way to combat stigma is to talk about the mental illness. So there is a big part of my brain that feels like this book could potentially add to the stigma rather than detract from it.
That is what life is. It’s only the ratios that change. usually on their own.
I really enjoyed this book overall and I definitely will continue to recommend it. There is a part of me that still feels quite torn over the mental health aspect, but it made for a very interesting read.
4 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽