About the book
In post-war London two girls are relieved to find husbands. One lands the 1950s dream of wealth and security. The other, Elaine, endures fourteen years married to a man with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. At first Elaine finds Gerald's activities curious but manageable. But he grows increasingly withdrawn, sometimes violent. The birth of their daughter heralds a complete breakdown and five years of silence, fear and despair. With startling honesty and great eloquence, Bass describes their poverty, her loneliness, her fears for her child, finding comfort in an affair with the village doctor and how the relationship finally ends. A Secret Madness is a remarkable personal evocation of an era.
Drawing on her vivid recollections, Bass has written a powerfully compelling book that captures the searing loneliness of a marriage to a man trapped within his illness.
This gripping, moving and obsessively readable book will ring bells with anyone who's ever had a 'difficult marriage'.
It's a harrowing and thought-provoking book, and should cure any nostalgia for the way we lived in the fifties. The reader feels the author's lonely plight acutely. And one must admire a woman, isolated and unsupported, who uses her own intelligence to construct sense in the strange and frightening world into which her marriage took her. And one who has such emotional stamina.
The writing is brilliantly evocative of an era when the effects of rationing were commonplace, when there was still National Service and BBC radio plays were an evening's entertainment.
What's she's achieved is quite remarkable... no ordinary book.