Sarah Rayner explores a difficult topic in “Another Night, Another Day,” which explores the relationships between a group of people who are getting treatment for different mental illnesses. There are three main characters whom the reader will come to know, and there are many more suffering from different degrees of mental illness at Moreland’s Place, a private clinic.
It’s England, and while the NHS (National Health Service) provides coverage for those suffering from depression and other mental disorders, it’s not nearly as posh as Moreland’s Place, the private facility where the main characters meet. Abby is the young mother of a child who has Autism, her husband has distanced himself from both his wife and son, and she is increasingly unable to cope with it all by herself. Karen’s husband died and left her with two young children, and her father’s recent death has resulted in a breakdown. Michael ran a florist’s shop for many years before a series of misfortunes caused him to lose the shop — and he was unable to face going on without it.
The narrative shifts from person to person, the author sharing each person’s thoughts and feelings. Rayner uses this story as a way of educating her readers about mental illness and the havoc it can wreak on a person’s life. The different people in the story have problems ranging from bipolar disorder to depression and anxiety.
A good part of the story is about how the characters learn to deal with their issues, some with the help of medication and others by learning techniques to focus and think. The thrust of the novel is that those who suffer from mental illness are not different from any of us. Many seemingly “normal” people living ordinary lives have issues, and seeking help for those issues is not wrong. It is important. Just as one would see a doctor to heal a broken arm, one should see a doctor about healing a broken psyche.
The book is upbeat in spite of its serious topic and the bulk of it being about the three characters going through therapy and very difficult times. While readers might think that Rayner could have done some editing to keep the story shorter, those who are interested in the subject of mental health will find it riveting. Also, those who have read other books by Rayner will find some familiar characters.
It’s also interesting (and fun) to read a book that takes place in England. The slight differences in language (angora jumpers, for example) and expressions and the descriptions of the English countryside bring additional elements of interest to the story.
Please note: This review is based on the advance review copy provided by the publisher, St. Martin’s Griffin, for review purposes.
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