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Sorrow and Bliss

Sorrow and Bliss

This was the first book I put on the Champagne list as I started my Spring reading - I knew I had to bring it to the right crowd.  It put me in mind of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Nothing to See Here, which are past PPB features.  The understated dry humor is the book’s shining quality and secret weapon because the story’s premise is painful. (Hence the title!) Martha just turned 40 and has been battling a misdiagnosed mental illness for about 20 years and a pretty unconventional childhood to boot and it has come to a head because her husband, who she has known from childhood has finally had enough. One reviewer called this an anti-love love story - Martha has built up so many defenses that she is practically a fortress.  But the hope that seeps through makes this a fab read. - Carrie

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction!

"Brilliantly faceted and extremely funny. . . . While I was reading it, I was making a list of all the people I wanted to send it to, until I realized that I wanted to send it to everyone I know." -- Ann Patchett

The internationally bestselling sensation, a compulsively readable novel--spiky, sharp, intriguingly dark, and tender--that Emma Straub has named one of her favorite books of the year

Martha Friel just turned forty. Once, she worked at Vogue and planned to write a novel. Now, she creates internet content. She used to live in a pied-à-terre in Paris. Now she lives in a gated community in Oxford, the only person she knows without a PhD, a baby or both, in a house she hates but cannot bear to leave. But she must leave, now that her husband Patrick--the kind who cooks, throws her birthday parties, who loves her and has only ever wanted her to be happy--has just moved out.

Because there's something wrong with Martha, and has been for a long time. When she was seventeen, a little bomb went off in her brain and she was never the same. But countless doctors, endless therapy, every kind of drug later, she still doesn't know what's wrong, why she spends days unable to get out of bed or alienates both strangers and her loved ones with casually cruel remarks.

And she has nowhere to go except her childhood home: a bohemian (dilapidated) townhouse in a romantic (rundown) part of London--to live with her mother, a minorly important sculptor (and major drinker) and her father, a famous poet (though unpublished) and try to survive without the devoted, potty-mouthed sister who made all the chaos bearable back then, and is now too busy or too fed up to deal with her.

But maybe, by starting over, Martha will get to write a better ending for herself--and she'll find out that she's not quite finished after all.

Publication Date: 
February 9, 2021