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A Secret Madness

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: Biography & Memoir

A Secret Madness

The Story of a Marriage

Elaine Bass

eBook (ePUB/MOBI)?
9781847650863 (6 Aug 2010)

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 But he grows increasingly withdrawn, sometimes violent.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.

About the author

Elaine Bass is 84 years old. She has two children and lives with her second husband in Norfolk. This is her first book.


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.

- Angela Cooke, Daily Express

What's she's achieved is quite remarkable... no ordinary book.

- Sue Cooke, Woman's Weekly

This is a study in saintly forbearance, but also in the innocence of a time that knew little of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, was shocked by sexual deviance, and when the Freudian precepts we take for granted were not yet in place.

- Lesley White, Sunday Times Culture

A Secret Madness is a poignant and brave account of a marriage struggling to survive against the dark shadows of an illness for which there is still no cure. Essential reading for anyone attempting to understand and cope with OCD.

- Shereen Low, Birmingham Post

A superb, tragic period piece.

- Ian Samson, The Guardian

Additional Information

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: Biography & Memoir