Book Review – The Other Girl by C. D. Major

First published, 1st September 2020 (Today. I know. How lucky am I?)

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

The story follows Edith, a twenty-year-old woman, living between the wars in a mental hospital in New Zealand. Having told a lot of stories as a child, stories that the people around her couldn’t or wouldn’t understand, stories that frightened her deeply devout parents, Edith has spent the last fifteen years of her young life under a misdiagnosis, pills, restraints and electro-convulsive therapy.

When young doctor, Declan Harris appears in the hospital, he takes a special interest in Edith’s case and, although discouraged and actively thwarted by his superior, Dr Malone, he reads Edith’s case notes and gets to know her story: of her life before she was Edith, when she was The Other Girl.

A wonderfully detailed story, I was engrossed from start to finish, this is my first time reading C. D. Major, and it will not be the last. I did have some difficulties following the timing in the beginning – the story switches from past to present with some regularity – but once I tuned in to the rhythm, I was right there ’til the end.

The characters were well-drawn and, if not entirely likeable, they were definitely believable. Their weaknesses, innocence, stubbornness: all were very real and human. I really enjoyed getting to know these characters. The writing was strong, the author has a unique voice which I really liked and the subject matter was dazzling.

It is a pretty astonishing idea – that the only person who really knows what has happened is the only person no one will believe. Does it mean that the truth will live and die in her, or will someone come along who’s prepared to listen? And even if a person could put their prejudices to one side, would they be allowed to do so, or would others stand in their way?