New Release Book Review: Sorrow And Bliss By Meg Mason – BookOGraphics
Sorrow and Bliss Book Review
Have you ever wondered what goes on in the mind of someone struggling with mental health issues? Can you imagine living with a condition that clouds your judgement, prohibits you from feeling pleasure, and paints everything you see with a hue of inertia and misery? These are, at the very least, some of the questions that Meg Mason tries to answer in her charming and heartfelt novel, Sorrow and Bliss.
About the Author
Meg Mason was born in Sydney in 1977 and is a writer and journalist. She has worked for newspapers, television, and the public sector, writing everything from speeches for judges to award winning feature articles. Meg has written two books, Say It Again in a Nice Voice and You Be Mother, which was shortlisted for the New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards in 2018. Her latest novel, Sorrow and Bliss, has received critical acclaim and was selected for Reese Witherspoon’s book club.
The Main Themes and Ideas in Sorrow and Bliss
Sorrow and Bliss is a heart-wrenching novel that explores the topics of love and mental illness. The story is told from the point of view of Martha, a woman in her thirties struggling with bipolar disorder. The narrative highlights Martha’s journey as she tries to come to terms with her condition, find stability, and forge meaningful relationships amidst the chaos caused by her fluctuating moods and emotions.
One of the main themes in the novel is mental health and how it can impact a person’s life and those around them. Mason approaches this theme with great sensitivity and delicacy, avoiding cliches and stereotypes. Instead, she portrays Martha as a multifaceted character with real emotions and thoughts, making her struggles all the more relatable and intimate for the reader. The novel also offers valuable insight into how relationships can be tested and strengthened when mental illness is present, and how communication, empathy, and patience are key to overcoming the challenges that arise.
Another significant theme explored in the novel is the role of gender and societal expectations in shaping one’s identity and sense of self-worth. Martha is a witty and intelligent character, but is often ridiculed or overlooked due to her condition and gender. Mason tackles this topic head-on, exposing the double standards and prejudices that still exist in modern society. Her writing is incisive, funny, and touching, making the reader reflect on their own biases and privilege.
The Author’s Writing Style and Conveyance of Message
Meg Mason’s writing style is crisp, engaging, and emotionally charged. She has a remarkable talent for describing complex feelings and situations with precision and clarity, without resorting to melodrama. Her use of language is masterful, and she employs a range of techniques to convey the inner workings of Martha’s mind and the world around her, including metaphors, flashbacks, and understatements.
One of the strengths of the novel is how it balances different tones and moods, seamlessly switching from heart-warming moments to gut-wrenching ones. The pacing of the story is also well-judged, never dragging or rushing.
However, some readers might find Mason’s use of narrative switches and fragmented timelines confusing or distracting. The novel also abruptly ends, leaving some loose ends and open questions, which might leave some readers unsatisfied.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Sorrow and Bliss
Sorrow and Bliss is a remarkable novel that deftly portrays mental illness, love, and gender issues. The characters are well-drawn and complex, the writing is poignant and witty, and the storytelling is engrossing and relatable. The author’s message is one of hope, resilience, and self-discovery, and Mason does an outstanding job of communicating it without resorting to preachiness or sentimentality.
However, as with any novel, Sorrow and Bliss has its weaknesses. Some might find the fragmented timeline and narrative switches confusing, and the open ending might leave some questions unanswered. Also, while Mason’s portrayal of Martha’s mental illness is insightful and sympathetic, some readers might feel that the supporting characters lack sufficient depth and complexity.
Comparison to Other Works in its Genre
Sorrow and Bliss fits within the genre of contemporary fiction that deals with mental illness and relationship dynamics. It shares many similarities with other acclaimed works in the same vein, such as Sally Rooney’s Normal People, Nathan Filer’s Shock of the Fall, and Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge.
However, what sets Sorrow and Bliss apart from the rest is the author’s raw honesty and humour. Mason doesn’t sugarcoat the reality of living with bipolar disorder, nor does she resort to self-pity or drama. Her writing is sincere and heartfelt, and the story leaves a lasting impression on the reader.
Overall Impression and Recommendation
Sorrow and Bliss is an exceptional novel that merits attention from both readers and critics alike. Meg Mason has written a gem of a book that is both insightful and entertaining, and that manages to transcend the boundaries of genre and culture. Her writing is powerful, and her characters are unforgettable.
If you enjoy contemporary fiction that explores issues of mental health, relationships, and gender, you will definitely appreciate Sorrow and Bliss. Highly recommended.
Q: Is Sorrow and Bliss a depressing book?
A: While the subject matter of the book is serious, and there are some heartbreaking moments, Sorrow and Bliss is not a depressing book. The author’s writing is witty and engaging, and her characters are endearing and relatable.
Q: Is Sorrow and Bliss a romance novel?
A: Sorrow and Bliss is not a traditional romance novel, although it does explore the complexities of love and relationships. The focus of the book is on the protagonist’s journey towards self-discovery and acceptance, rather than on a romantic plotline.
Q: Is Sorrow and Bliss suitable for younger readers?
A: Sorrow and Bliss deals with mature themes, including mental illness, sexual content, and strong language, which might not be appropriate for younger readers. We recommend that the book be read by adults or young adults with parental guidance.