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An Intriguing Read for those interested in psychiatry/mental health
on 4 July 2012
Now I don't know much about McGrath's work but this description from Penguin leads me to believe that the `unreliable narrator' is a preferred tool of his and it definitely works in this context with our narrator being Dr Cleave, another psychiatrist, seemingly removed for the actual events going on and a lot of the novel is made up of things that Stella told him, therefore completely unreliable!
It was a funny angle to read from if I'm honest, as from the blurb I was expecting to be reading from the point of view of the husband Max or from a completely omniscient narrative perspective but this wasn't the case. I'm not sure I understand exactly why McGrath chose to use Cleave as his narrator, aside from the fact that he's a medical superintendant and therefore suitably qualified to discuss both Edgar and Stella's mental states.
I definitely found this novel thought-provoking as I find its subject matter thought provoking but I felt nothing for any of the characters. I don't know if it was intentional but there wasn't a single character drawn with any empathy, even Stella and Max's young son Charlie appears neutrally. I'm used to finding at least one character I can get involved in but this novel seemed to focus more on story than characterisation and it was fairly fast-paced which I enjoyed.
Would I recommend it? If you're interested in the history of mental health treatment/psychiatry and such like - Yes.