Patrick McGrath


There is a great sense of timelessness in this novel set in and around the confines of a mental asylum, a gothic sensability which permeates throughout. It is in a modern setting, though has an aura of an earlier less enlightened age, where the world of the mental asylum was one of dark uncomfortable secrets. The narrator appears first as a character on the fringes of the story, and for much of the novel he is, though his interventions often appear at important moments and he can be seen to have a more central role to the unfolding tragedy than you might at first assume. His ever present voice sits at the centre of the story, cold and clinical revealing all with a detachment that belies his involvement in a tale where a woman, the disenfranchised wife of a psychiatrist in a mental asylum, begins an affair with a patient of the narrator. The patient has a dark past whose true extent is only gradually revealed and it always hovers above their relationship.

A sense of a tragedy waiting to happen, or for the narrator one that already has, is ever present, though you are left waiting until the latter stages of the novel to discover its true extent. The tragic crux of the novel is both brief and poignant and acts as a perfect balancing point to the unfolding tale. This is a work of great presence and one that sits uneasily in the mind, a story that is unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry as its characters are imbued with life which makes their endings seem all the more powerful.

Bibliographic Information


Go to: Homepage | Links | What's New

Recommended: Themes | Novels | Anthologies

created and maintained by ian davey.