‘The small translucent bottle of shampoo outlived him. It was the kind you take home from hotels in distant places. For over a year it had sat on the shower shelf where he had left it. I looked at it every day.’
After the death of her partner of thirty-two years, Lisa Appignanesi was thrust into a state striated by rage and superstition in which sanity felt elusive. The dead of prior generations loomed large and haunting. Then, too, the cultural and political moment seemed to collude with her condition: everywhere people were dislocated and angry.
In this electrifying and brave examination of an ordinary enough death and its aftermath, Appignanesi uses all her evocative and analytic powers to scrutinize her own and our society’s experience of grieving, the effects of loss and the potent, mythical space it occupies in our lives.
With searing honesty, lashed by humour, she navigates us onto the terrain of childhood, the way it forms our feelings of love and hate, and steers us towards a less tumultuous version of the everyday.
This book may be short, but life, death, madness, love, and grandchildren, are all there – seen through the eyes of a writer who is ever aware of the historical and current vagaries of woman’s condition.
About the author
Born in Poland in 1946, Lisa Appignanesi grew up in Montreal from the age of six. Since moving to Britain in her twenties she has been central to British cultural life: a former President of English PEN and former Chair of the Trustees of the Freud Museum in London, she is currently the Chair of the Royal Society of Literature. She has published extensively, both fiction and non-fiction, including the novel MEMORY AND DESIRE and the non-fiction books MAD, BAD, AND SAD and ALL ABOUT LOVE.
- ‘Appignanesi luminously conveys the wayward emotions that make bereavement a language that is hard to understand, yet speaks to us every day when we experience a great loss. You will find all of life in this rewarding, scholarly and entertaining conversation about freedom, Freud, fury, enduring love, and how mythic and modern families haunt each other’ Deborah Levy
- ‘Keen-eyed, unflinching in her honesty, Lisa Appignanesi carries us down into the depths through an inner landscape of unappeasable turmoil, as she moves towards knowledge of love and the serenity it brings. With piercing insight and many moments of intense poignancy, she illuminates the complexity and costs of a remarkable and passionate journey’ Marina Warner
- ‘Wonderful, moving, extraordinary. It is sui generis. I feel enormously privileged to have read it – twice. Its structure is remarkable – an enacting of the last two years. Bravo bravo’ Edmund de Waal
- ‘A ragged, stop-start quality, often feeling like a conversation, at times an argument, with the reader, and is all the more engaging for it…’ Guardian
- ‘An investigation of a state that floats somewhere between diagnosed mental illness and daily life; she is her survey’s principal case, but she’s interested, too, in the “historical moment” whose anger and loss, she insists, can “be understood as sharing a set of emotions” with her own’ Observer
- ‘It is anger of the everyday sort that is currently being politicised. Feminists are fighting back against the way women’s anger is typically caricatured and delegitimised, and celebrating the power of collective female anger as a way of flexing socially progressive muscle … a brave and compelling book’ New Statesman
- ‘Everyday Madness is supple, powerful and remarkably solipsistic; Appignanesi meditates with great wisdom and fierce honesty on “the puzzle that the self perennially is” in a memoir that begins in opaqueness and ends in clarity’ TLS