Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Other Side of You - Salley Vickers

I couldn't stop reading this bitter sweet book.  David, a psychiatrist, and one of his patients, Elizabeth, an attempted suicide, each have baggage.  For her, it's the meeting of, and the loosing, of her soulmate; and for him, the loss of his brother in early childhood.   For several sessions, Elizabeth is unable to talk abot her attempted suicide (which was not a cry for help, but very much meant), until discussing an Italian painting with her doctor, she suddenly decides that it's worth telling her story.  In doing so, she becomes the catalyst for David to think again about his brother, how he died, and how his whole life has been affected by that. 
I wonder how most of us would feel, meeting that soulmate and then loosing him the very next day;  the anguish that would go with that loss, the steps taken to fill the hole left by that loss, and the sudden re-meeting by chance, of that very person, so many years later?  I wonder how many of us have family history that we don't doubt? 

It is a dark book - we know almost immediately that Elizabeth attempted suicide, but not why.  We also  know that she is David's patient, and that it is his job to "heal" his patient.  It takes a while for us to realise the facts behind the attempt.  It takes us a while, too, to understand that sometimes David gets too close to his patients.  His own personal life is in turmoil, something he slowly comes to acknowledge when Elizabeth is telling her story.  Dark it may be, but with redemption.  It is the story of love but  not between the doctor and the patient in the accepted sense of the word love.  It is so beautifully written that it's a master class in the description of feelings - If you haven't caught up with this one yet I recommend it.

I'd like to hear your comments if you have read it, too.