Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Most reviewed: Mad, Bad and Sad
18.02.08 by Philip Jones writing in The Bookseller:

Two Virago titles were the most reviewed books in last weekend's press (15th-17th February). In terms of space, Lisa Appignanesi's Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800, gets the most, yet it is Linda Grant’s novel The Clothes on their Backs that gets the better critical reception. Hanif Kureishi, writing the lead review in the Financial Times, writes how Appignanesi's "magisterial new book", "brilliantly shows us how, in terms of mental health, we are in danger of coming circle", from the hysterical women exhibited by Freud's mentor Carcot, to those shown on reality TV shows. Woman is dangerous, adds Kureishi.

Appignanesi, according to Michele Roberts in the Independent on Sunday review, offers a "revised and enriched history of the relationships between female doctors and their male mind-doctors". The author argues that our current expectations to be 'better than well' are turning women into "Princesses of Crazy", or its handmaidens, finds Melanie McGrath in the Sunday Telegraph.The history of "mind doctors" is also a study of the links between psychology and literature, adds Kureishi, from Anna Karenina to Madame Bovary: "it is the women who cross the line and pay the price".The novelist of The Memory Man, weakens her book by the "laboured retelling of the stories of famous neurotics", writes the Times's Brenda Maddox, but the IoS's Roberts does not agree: "Appignanesi's novelist self pops up, and helps her to create a narrative method mixing historical description with illuminating biographical anecdotes".Linda Grant's novel The Clothes on their Backs is about the way clothes can offer a new beginning, even in the face of bereavement, writes Amanda Craig in the Daily Telegraph. "This is a vivid, enjoyable and consistently unexpected novel".

Michael Arditti writes in the Independent that the novel "is at one a beautifully detailed character study, a poignant family history and a richly evocative portrait of the late 1970s". A "terrific novel", confirms Clare Colvin's Mail on Sunday review. "The novel is above all a quiet masterclass in the perils of hypocrisy."
Most reviewed (15th to 17th February)

Mad, Bad and Sad by Lisa Appignanesi (Virago)"Weakened by the laboured retelling of the stories of famous neurotics" Times"

Essential for specialists" Financial Times "

The Clothes on their Backs by Linda Grant (Virago)"This is a vivid, enjoyable and consistently unexpected novel" Daily Telegraph"

Bursting with life and vivid characters" Mail on Sunday

My Favourite Wife by Tony Parsons (HarperCollins)"A major achievement" Mirror

"Parsons knows how to make a page turn" Times"Parsons' novel has a credible story" Mail on Sunday"An awful humourlessness in the writing" Sunday Telegraph

How Fiction Works by James Wood (Cape)"Should find a place on every novel-lover's shelf" Financial Times

"Woods shows how the critical mind ought to work" Observer

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