The Other Side of You

April 2, 2007 at 6:54 pm (Book review, books)

I had never heard of Salley Vickers when I began her novel THE OTHER SIDE OF YOU several days ago. David McBride, a psychiatrist living in the south of England, has a thriving practice, a beautiful wife, and a congenial circle of friends and colleagues. As the novel opens, he is attempting to get a particular reticent patient, Elizabeth Cruikshank, to open up to him. Elizabeth has recently attempted suicide. What could have driven this ordinary-seeming woman approaching early middle age to take such drastic action? McBride finally achieves a breakthrough with this patient, but as her story unfolds, its ramifications have a huge and totally unexpected impact on McBride himself, both professionally and personally.

This is a novel about profound love and even more profound loss; it is shot through with a sadness tinged with ruefulness and resignation. I am reminded of a phrase in Latin that appears near the conclusion of Penelope Lively’s luminous novel The Photograph: “lacrimae rerum.” It is from The Aeneid and has been variously translated as, There are tears for things, tears attend trials, tears are everywhere, the pity of things, the tears of the world – well, you get the idea. Ther characters reach out desperately for consolation, and do find some, in the world’s great art – especially in the paintings of Caravaggio – and in the Bible.

This is Ian McEwan caliber writing from Salley Vickers. I urge you to read it!

3 Comments

  1. Cheating at Canasta: Stories by William Trevor « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] you have tears, prepare to shed them now.” I also think of the expression from The Aeneid, “lacrimae rerum,” quoted by Penelope Lively in The […]

  2. The House on Fortune Street, by Margot Livesey « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] a personal note: I recently completed a re-reading of The Other Side of You by Salley Vickers with an eye to leading a discussion of it for the Literary Ladies Book Club next […]

  3. “The question is not how to cure or how to be cured but how to live.” - The Other Side of You, by Salley Vickers « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] written about this book before, once to recommend it to readers who care about fine literature; and again to quote from Michael Dirda’s review. (Dirda, who writes for the Washington Post […]

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