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The State of Me

The State of Me [Kindle Edition]

Nasim Marie Jafry
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Product Description


'Stylistically The State of Me is an easy, unpretentious read, peppered with acerbic internalisations that every ME sufferer wants to vocalise to every well-meaning person with a suggestion on how to get better. That said, there is no real bitterness to the book, quite the contrary, and the stories of those surrounding the narrator (nostalgically evoking the 1980s) give it many layers.' Mischa Hiller, author of Sabra Zoo and Shake Off '

'The amazing feat of this novel is to give one a sense of the pain and frustration of this condition, and yet to be bouncing with life, the inner life and the irrepressible psyche of Helen'Elizabeth Baines, author of The Birth Machine

‘A remarkable first novel … word perfect on neurological ME' Tony Britton, Publicity Manager, ME Association

Product Description

A beautifully written debut novel by an exciting author.

Curriculum Vitae

Name: Helen Fleet

Work Experience: Waitress; Serial volunteer

Education: Four Highers: French (A), English (A), Maths (A), Chemistry (A), 1981; Ordinary Arts degree, MA, 1990; Certificate in Counselling Skills and Theory, 1992

Travel: France, Madeira, San Francisco, Rome, Greece. And London.

Relationships: Sex with three men: Hadi, Ivan and Fabio. I still love Ivan.

Additional Information: I have a mini hi-fi and a pine bookcase, and an expensive leather briefcase (got it in the January sales after Fabio and I had finished) and a suit I haven't worn since my graduation.

It's 1983 and 20-year-old university student Helen Fleet should be enjoying the best days of her life, but while all her friends go on to graduate and have careers in London, she is forced to return to her parents' home, bedridden with vile symptoms that doctors can't explain and often don't believe. She is eventually diagnosed with M.E., a cruel illness that she must learn to live with over the next decade. All of her relationships are tested – and changed – by her condition, but Helen's story is so much more than an account of her suffering. At times sad and at times funny, the author skillfully leads the reader through the trials and tribulations of Helen's life, perfectly capturing her unusual experiences as a twenty-something woman living in 80s Scotland with a mystery illness.

Based on the author's own experience of ME The State of Me explores the loneliness and chaos of one of the most misunderstood illnesses of our time, but also celebrates the importance of family, friendships, and sexual love.

A stunning, eloquent and linguistically perfect debut novel.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 510 KB
  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Publisher: The Friday Project (24 Jun 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000730319X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007303199
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #31,401 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

The State of Me (2008) is an expression of the illness - ME, erroneously labelled as 'CFS' - through fiction. I've been ill since I was an undergraduate in 1980s. Things are changing, slowly but surely, and this novel is my weapon against the ignorance that prevails. Shortlisted for Bridport Short Story Prize 2011 & Bridport Flash Fiction Prize 2012.

I tweet at @velogubbed

I blog at

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A sharp and witty account of a serious subject 28 July 2008
By S. Zigmond VINE VOICE
This is the story of Helen Fleet. Young, bright, witty and fun, she has all her life before her. And a boyfriend to die for. Then, when in France as part of her degree course, she is first struck down by a mystery virus which leaves her weak, ill and practically bed-ridden for years and suffering many unpleasant side effects such as nausea, cramps and headaches. An eventual diagnosis hardly helps. M.E. has not long been recognised as a serious illness by the medical authorities and even now there are health professionals who still persist in thinking it's all in the mind. Not only does she have to cope with her illness she has to face day to day ignorance, prejudice and even downright hostility. Helen is soon judging friends, relatives and passing strangers by how they react to her condition. We follow Helen as she is dragged to rock-bottom, living off her parents, invalidity benefits and the 'charity' of friends. Even her boyfriend finds it tough to cope with her paranoia,fits of anger and self-pity and although they agree to remain friends, she has to suffer in silent jealousy as he has sex with other girls, either in reality or in her own impotent jealousy.

If this sounds heavy-going or dull, think again. This book is a delight from start to finish. The 'serious' side of the novel - the day-to-day reality of dealing with M.E. is tempered by Helen's self- deprecating sense of humour which had me giggling on almost every page. Her writing is fresh, sharp and stuffed full of delicious observations about human behaviour. The 'Scottishness' of the setting, with its unique slang and way of looking at things is a definite plus point, as is the variety of narrative styles the author uses.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read 29 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The State of ME is beautifully written, totally unputdownable, and an absolute "Must Read" for both sceptics and sufferers of ME.
It allows us to share central aspects of Helen`s life as she struggles with the devastating impact of ME in the face of ignorance and scepticism promoted by the media and health professionals.
The State of ME contains a powerful message for those in the medical professional still intent in potraying ME as a psychosamatic illness, and also gives a voice to those of us who have suffered from the illness.
The State of ME is sensuous, witty, heartbreaking and intelligent, and a brilliant accomplishment for any writer ....particularly one that has struggled with ME for years.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning debut 16 July 2008
The State of Me is a novel where each and every word has been carefully positioned and chosen. This novel is eloquent, delicate, crafted, accessible, literary and filled with hope.

Nasim's writing is not what you'd expect of a debut, her voice is confident, speaks with experience and with craft. I read some sentences aloud and sighed, deeply. The story arcs, the threads weave, the staccato dialogue is authentic, the voices are original and bright. There is a freshness to the craft. But, beyond this craft and beyond the linguistic beauty, through reading about Helen I now have an understanding of ME and I want to go on and read more about ME.

This novel will raise awareness, stepping towards removing ignorance and misunderstanding. This story is subtle, new and needs to be read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spot on.... 25 Sep 2008
I'll come clean - I suffer from ME so it is difficult to be thoroughly objective about this debut novel, so few have been written about the illness.

As a sufferer I found the book to be spot on, describing precisely and with honesty what it is like to be constantly yet fluctuatingly ill (without always showing it) and the terrible impact it has on your life.

Stylistically it an easy unpretentious read, peppered with ascerbic internalisations that every ME sufferer wants to vocalise to every well-meaning person with a suggestion on how to get better. That said, there is no real bitterness to the book, quite the contrary, and the stories of those surrounding the narrator (nostalgically evoking the 1980's) give it many layers. The whole thing is wrapped up in a love story that will keep you guessing while managing to remain schmaltz free. What you come away with is the humour and indefatigable will of the narrator to have a life.

Enjoy this book and learn something about ME in the process.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tears and laughter on a journey through M.E. 30 July 2008
By J
It's very, very seldom that a book can reduce me to tears but this novel, by new writer Nasim Marie Jafry has done just that. In my case this is partly because the subject matter is so close to my own heart since I am someone who has struggled with M.E. for over 30 years. Many of the life events have happened to me and many of the remarks and struggles with family and the medical profession have happened too.

Jafry's ability to communicate a life such as hers and mine through the telling of seemingly everyday situations and occurrences is wonderful. Every hurdle, every bruising nuance that M.E. brings to the smallest task is set down here in black and white. If anyone ever wanted to know how a life can be transformed from a spontaneous freewheeling journey to a tangled and interrupted stumble they would only need to pick up your book. Having said that, The State of Me is not a work that can be consigned to the tall heap of misery memoirs which seem to be the 'genre de jour' at the moment. It's full of light and shade and contains a lovely, witty device where the narrative is occasionally interrupted by an ongoing dialogue between Helen, the central character and The Stranger who knows nothing about M.E. and constantly asks the most innocuous and innocent questions about the illness and Helen's every day life. Best of all there's a happy ending.

Whether you want to read a good tale about the twists and turns in the life of a bright young woman or want to know more about M.E. this book from a new talent is a winner.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This is an excellent book from a gifted writer. I don't think it ever received much publicity, and so I suspect nearly everyone reading it suffers from or knows someone who... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ariadne
4.0 out of 5 stars me
this book was like reading about "me" a good read for all even those without the condition, to which it will give a good understanding of "me"
Published 5 months ago by Joe_ali_jade
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
I very rarely read fiction because I have such high standards when it comes to storytelling but this fulfilled all my requirements. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Lady K
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for people who suffer with ME
After reading the blurb for this book, I expected it to be different, but I say that in a good way. I expected it to be full of accounts of doctors' visits, of woe-is-me narrative,... Read more
Published 7 months ago by JSC
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written hilarious and bitter sweet novel not only about living...
I was feeling wretched when I downloaded this book. What a tremendous mood booster! I suffer with Fibromyalgia- another chronic illness with a few similar symptoms as ME. Read more
Published 7 months ago by kasbah
5.0 out of 5 stars Jolly good read, easy to empathise with main character
Having had ME myself for 11 years, this book was a real breath of fresh air... I was delighted to discover that someone had written a novel about the subject. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Plymgirl
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of modern literature
This is a wickedly witty, observant novel (fictionalised biography?) focusing on the minutiae of human relationships through the lens of Helen's "mystery illness". Read more
Published 8 months ago by Jacqueline
2.0 out of 5 stars Not For Me
I really wanted to like this book. I suffer from FMS & CFS and wanted to read about someone else's experiences with a 'hidden illness' (ME), but... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Nettie Thomson
5.0 out of 5 stars Helped ME
I have ME and reading this book has helped me explain my situation more and make me feel less alone.
Published 9 months ago by Rach C
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, moving and quirky debut novel
This is such an interesting combination, part fiction, part treatise on health and the way our society approaches disease and diagnosis. I found it fascinating and a great read.
Published 9 months ago by Tania Hershman
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Rita’s youngest brother, brain-damaged at birth, not profoundly, but enough to make him happy. &quote;
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Light at the end of the tunnel was the favourite, but my symptoms continued to synchronise themselves in a vicious kaleidoscopic pattern and all I could see was black. &quote;
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I am like a bee, stunning itself against the window over and over, never fully understanding that there’s an obstacle in the way of what it wants. &quote;
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