Last week I finally read Meg Mason’s book, Sorrow and Bliss. My middle sister recommended it to me ages ago, but I only just got around to reading it because I had to wait ages for it become available at the library. The library has 12 copies of this book, which tells you how popular it is.
I read it in two days and cried at the end.
I’m not sure how to describe it because it’s both funny and sad. It’s about getting things wrong and keeping going. Martha, (the main character) is both awful and endearing. Sometimes you want to shake her and say, don’t do that, but then you realise that often she can’t help herself.
Even though I loved it, I’m not sure it will appeal to everyone, so I thought I’d share an interview with the author so you can decide if it is something you want to read.
Finding the perfect interview with Meg Mason turned out to be more time-consuming than I imagined. Because the book has been so popular (they’re making it into a movie), she’s been a guest on just about every book podcast imaginable. I ended up listening to about five versions of the same interview and it was interesting to hear how differently she came across in each one. When the hosts were very chatty and casual, she was a lot funnier and more honest. In the more formal interviews, she sounded a lot more nervous and stayed “on script” the whole time.
I finally chose this interview with the author Kate Mildenhall because she sounds really comfortable. I suspect they know one another well because they are roughly the same age and probably hang out at the same literary festivals. In the interview, she reveals she dislikes her first book (a memoir) and when she sees it in a bookshop; she wants to scribble in the book and change some words.
This really resonated with me. When I worked as a film editor, I often had scenes where things just weren’t working, but I couldn’t fix them because I didn’t have the shots I needed, or I didn’t have enough time to make the scene work. I’m sure it’s the same for anyone trying to do something creative. Sometimes you know you should have started again, or spent more time, but for whatever reason, you didn’t or couldn’t. There was a deadline, or the kids needed to be fed, or you had to be somewhere. We often have a desire to make things look and sound perfect, but there isn’t always time to do that.
But it’s hard to give up the idea that we should do things well.
Every time I get down on the floor to do my exercises, I look at the little gaps where the paint stops and the skirting board starts. I did a pretty ordinary job when I painted that room, but I was recovering from a back injury when I did it, so it’s foolish to think that I could do anything other than a “good enough” job. Occasionally, I contemplate getting out the tin of half-strength chintz grey and finishing it properly, but then my knee hurts and I decide to leave it for another day. I’ve got other things to do. Maybe not very well, but to the best of my ability.
3 thoughts on “Sorrow and bliss”
I have also just finished this book and loved it. There were many things I laughed at and some were incredibly sad too. I thought not naming the mental disorder was a mistake though because I kept reading ahead to see what it was and speculating on the exact disorder. I found it distracting. I look forward to the film.
One of the reasons I shared the interview is because she talks about why she didn’t name the disorder, so you might find that bit interesting. I also found it a bit distracting though.
We read this in our book club recently. Very readable