I love books about the Victorians. It’s Oscar Wilde’s fault for being one. And I like books about mental illness, as long as they do not do that stream of consciousness thing, which I absolutely can’t stand. So when I read about this on the other Jenny Claire’s blog, I was pleased as punch to read it; and yes, I did mess up my don’t-check-out-any-more-library-books thing in order to get this book. And, okay, yes, since I was at the library anyway, I may have gotten a few other books as well.
An Inconvenient Wife is about an upper-class American woman called Lucy who is very depressed and anxious and has been having panic attacks, because she’s unhappy with married life. Her husband William wants to take care of her. After a number of failed attempts to fix her, her husband arranges for her to see a neurologist called Victor Seth. Seth becomes obsessed with trying to make Lucy all strong and independent, and let’s just say that their doctor-patient relationship does not remain entirely a professional one.
This was a thought-provoking book – Lucy is becoming a person who does not depend on her husband and peers to define how she should behave. On the other hand, you never feel sure that she’s doing what she wants to do and being who she’s supposed to be, because her doctor’s manipulating her, and their relationship is never going to be acceptable because he’s abusing the entire doctor-patient dynamic. It was disturbing. I never felt like I had found my footing.
Given the choice, I’d rather read a book that was slightly melodramatic, than one that was so reflective you couldn’t locate a plot. However, I thought this book could have been better than it was by being just the tiniest smidge more subtle about Lucy’s mindset, and the things that were going to happen. Towards the end of the book, a number of slightly melodramatic things happened, and they would have been completely fine (you know, more fine) if they had been handled a bit more delicately.