Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

1. First lines. 2. Published 2020 Harper Collins 3. Woman in black top tilting her head while touching hair [Public Domain] via Pikrepo

Martha and Patrick are married, but she feels that there is something wrong with her that a variety of doctors have diagnosed differently. Her condition causes chaos and hurt among family members, and eventually it causes seemingly irretrievable rifts in her relationships.


“I already know I’m a monster.” I wanted her to tell me I wasn’t.

“I thought about our life in Oxford, with its walks and weekends, its dinners and author talks, minibreaks and exhibitions, Patrick’s important work and my very small work. I liked it no more or less than our life in London. It had been nearly two years. In the only way that mattered Oxford wasn’t different or better. There were still bathroom floor topics – Ingrid meant, the times I was so scared or leaden or in another way consumed by depression that I couldn’t move from whichever corner it had driven me into, until Patrick cam, and put his hand out and pulled me up. Then, as always, in a day, a week, however long, I could go into the bathroom and think nothing about the corner where I’d previously trembled, cried, bit my lip, begged, except the whole floor could do with a mop.”

My opinion:

This story is sad but funny too. There’s a real energy in the writing that fits so well with the characters and their chaotic lives.

The opinion of others:
  • Guardian: “It is an incredibly funny novel, and one that’s enlivened, often, by a madcap energy. Yet it still manages to be sensitive and heartfelt, and to offer a nuanced portrayal of what it means to try to make amends and change, even when that involves “start[ing] again from nothing.”
  • Readings: “Spiky, sharp, intriguingly dark and tender, full of pathos, fury and wit, Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason is a dazzling, distinctive novel from a boldly talented writer.”

Meg Mason

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