I can’t remember the last novel that made quite so much of a splash as Sorrow and Bliss. The paperback has just landed in bookshops which is why there is lots of chatter about it at the moment. I promise you, the chatter is warranted. This is a book that you will read, immediately want to discuss with your friends and press into the hands of people you love.
Meg Mason’s debut novel, Sorrow and Bliss is the story of the ending of a marriage, of the complications within a family and about mental health. It is told from the point of view of Martha, in the aftermath of her separation with her doctor husband Patrick. Martha is thinking over her life and her marriage, trying to make sense of what went wrong. At the centre of the story is the devastating mental illness that goes off like a bomb in her brain at the age of 17, leaving her with a crushing depression that incapacitates her for weeks or months at a time. Once diagnosed, Mason redacts the name of the illness with a “--”, a tool insightfully used so as not to detract from Martha’s story itself.
The effects of her illness are felt deeply within her family and in her marriage to Patrick, who she has known since childhood. A wonderfully funny book, despite the heaviness of the topic, it reflects the truth about life: that levity can exist within the darkness and that relationships, familial or other, are what sustain us in the end.