Other Side of You
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Other Side of You

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  662 ratings  ·  111 reviews

Salley Vickers's novel opens with the arrival of a new patient in the office of therapist David McBride. The woman, Elizabeth Cruikshank, has just attempted suicide. As the two begin to explore her history, David takes an uncommon interest in her case, a curiosity driven by a terrible loss in his own life. During one long night's dialogue, patient and therapist move togeth

Paperback, 272 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by Picador USA (first published January 3rd 2006)
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What a good book! It was one you could really "sink your teeth into".... with references to poetry, art, biblical stories, and psychology to think about and learn about. I really enjoyed it. The author is SO insightful. I loved the words that Elizabeth wrote to Thomas at the end,"Were not our hearts burning inside us?" What a great use of the words from the end of the Emmaus biblical story! That made me sob. Just like the disciples, a story that began in gloom and despair ends in new life and ho...more
Caravaggio’s famously evocative painting the Supper at Emmaus depicts a scene from the gospel of St Luke in which a deceptively unprepossessing man who has walked anonymously with two disciples reveals himself as Jesus. The scene echoes Jesus’s earlier words that he will always appear when others gather in his name, and this theme of rebirth, although more of the spirit than of the spiritual, becomes a key motif in Salley Vickers’s novel The Other Side of You. Read the rest of this review here
Tortuous, which is a shame because the relationship between psychiatrist and patient had the capacity to explore their respective losses. Unfortunately the author failed to grasp the opportunity presented and set off on a meandering story that left this reader caring little for the outcome or the principle characers. A missed opportunity.
Somehow I didn't quite connect with this one. In part the tone of the narrator, in part the emphasis on Caravaggio. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either and was quite relieved to reach the end.
Kathleen Dixon
David is a psychiatrist working in two psychiatric hospitals and with a small private practice. In the course of his work he meets Elizabeth Cruikshank, a failed suicide, whose silence he eventually breaks through unconventional means. Standard practice is to keep one's self out of the therapy, but when David had to miss an appointment with her and he attempted to draw her out by apologising for letting her down, he had a moment of clarity and his subsequent words to her hit the mark. She finall...more
I read this book with pleasure. It's neatly plotted and written with skill and a certain buttoned-up elegance. But I was left with doubts about its final success. First, did anyone else find the narrator unconvincing? I would have found the book more believable if the narrative voice had been female, because David never fully persuaded me that he was male. I didn't expect Rambo, but there was something oddly neutered about the character that goes beyond the psychological damage he'd no doubt suf...more
I'm not sure what I feel about this book. Sometimes it's romantic, sometimes it's glib, sometimes it's unbelievable in the neat way the characters' needs and insights fit together. There are a lot of elements swirling together. Sometimes it's profound, sometimes platitudinous. Nothing would ever happen this way. But nothing in fiction ever would. But are the characters round? Is this a world? Perhaps it's too didactic. Too much a clinical psychiatrist trying to abstract the things learned from a...more
Well, Salley Vickers is a good writer but I don't really enjoy her style of writing. this book is really different from the books that i usually read such as chick-lit, teens, relationships, family, friends and so forth. Sally Vickers writing is somewhat between the classical writing and the modern writing. the reason i bought this book is because i read many praises for the book in the beginning of the book thus i thought it was really good, so i was a bit disappointed when i find this book kin...more
Sharon Hollis
Members of my book group loved this book. What I loved about it was the power the author gives to the role of a person's story being heard to contribute to healing, and the value of listening. I also enjoyed the way art played an important role in the healing of Elizabeth. David the psychiatrist learns to listen to his own story and review his own life. This is at times a painful process but one the ultimately makes him a more whole human being. The writing in this novel is spare and beautiful a...more
Vickers' style and empathy engage me, please me, to the point that I want to set other things aside and just keep reading. (Even more than usual with me). As in another novel by her that I've read, Miss Garnet's Angel, she brings me deep into the world of people who are lonely, apart, in some way and who search for, sometimes achieving, some community and love. Her details are telling, and real. (Goodreads' summary description is so good I don't need to give more info re content, I think. Do yo...more
Yvonne (Fiction Books)
May 18, 2014 Yvonne (Fiction Books) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Yvonne (Fiction Books) by: Charity Shop Purchase
"Engaging and Poignant"

Without giving away too many spoilers, as this book has quite a narrow narrative and storyline, so it would be easy to do so, I would just say that if you like a book where the characters truly engage with one another, then this is a must read for you.

The patient and her psychologist, through their sharing of experiences, create a powerful and frighteningly honest reality about life, that left me questioning my own thoughts and actions. Much as it did David McBride, the p...more
This could have been a very indulgent piece of psychoanalysis but cleverly saves itself from that fate by managing to be simply touching. Good commentary on the nature of love mixed with a parallel storyline about Caravaggio. Intellectually satisfying.
Sometimes we have to break the rules of polite society and risk losing everything for Big Love. This is a book for those that have loved boldly, those that have loved timidly and especially those that have loved and lost.
It's very different from "Housekeeping," but resonates with Marilynne
Robinson's novel in the way it explores the life of loss and how it impacts
the lived experience of those who have undergone it.
Kate Sidley
The author is a pyschoanalyst, and this book is very interesting about that field. Quite profound insights into love, the human psyche and art.
The author could have done so much more with this. I really wanted to love this. The themes and idea was great but i was disappointed.
Engaging but annoying, and somehow phoney, pandering to sad middle aged women, sorry.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Yvann S
“After so devastating a disappointment it would make sense to turn to a Neil”

I read one of Vickers’ previous novels in my pre-blogging days, Miss Garnet’s Angel, and remember that it was mostly about a painting of Tobit or Tobias or Toblerone or some such personage. I did remember enjoying it though. And thus I seemed to be stepping into very familiar territory with The Other Side of You, which has a simple enough narrative structure – a few days in the life of psychologist and analyst Davey McB...more
Rose jackson
May be unfortunate that I came to this novel just after reading John Banville's 'Ancient Light'. I fully agreed with the few reviews that did not rave e.g. "It is not easy to empathise with Elizabeth. Having loved and lost Thomas Carrington, and having saddled herself with an empty marriage, ungrateful children and a mother-in-law from hell, she is given a second chance. Does she abandon dreary domesticity for a life of fun, frolic and Caravaggio with Thomas? Wishy-washy woman that she is she d...more
M.P. Nicholaou
I didn't finish this novel (the paperback) because I couldn't even get half way through it. I found it mediocre at best and full of clichés concerning the therapist/patient relationship. Don't believe the blurb on the covers of novels as they are full of praise from critics who are usually in the pay of the publishing houses. The object is to sell the novel at all costs because if they did put any negative comments on the back of the cover or in any review at the launch of the book, it simply wo...more
This is a gentle story about a psychiatrist, David, who is trying to help a suicidal patient, Elizabeth, cope with her life after the death of her lover, to whom she had never fully committed herself, to her regret. At the same time David has spent his life trying to cope with the accidental death of his brother, who died being hit by a truck that otherwise would have hit David. The focus of the story goes back and forth, told by David, but it is unclear whether his intention is to tell you his...more
This book left me yearning for a deep, spiritual kind of love. The book tackles the theme of suicide, and I think does a very poignant job of demonstrating how intensity of feelings can make life at times unbearable. In the movie American Beauty, the male character Ricky (Wes Bentley) cries over a film he made of a plastic bag dancing in the wind: "It was one of those days when it's a minute away from snowing and there's this electricity in the air, you can almost hear it. And this bag was, like...more
Loved this! Sat on my bookshelf for ages and when I read the summary on the back cover now I wonder what ever posessed me to buy it as it really doesn't sound like the kind of thing I'd read. ("One day, a failed suicide..."). But I'm a stickler for style and the narrator of this story had me from page one. It's not depressing at all, so don't be put off by the words "tragic dereliction of love and trust". It's a good'un!
Barbara Melosh
Beautifully wrought story of encounter between psychiatrist and patient that changes them both, as they connect through the Caravaggio paintings of the Luke story of Jesus on the road to Emmaus. I thought the last quarter of the book wasn't as satisfying; the relationship seems a little improbable and romantic. But the voice in this novel is compelling, and I'm looking forward to reading more of this writer's work.
Reading this for the second time, enthralled and moved in a way I don't remember from my first reading, soon after it came out. Spurred on to reread books around the house by Susan Hill's "Howard's End is on the Landing" and so pleased to have come back to Salley Vickers. Next I will find "Miss Garnet's Angel" which I loved when I read it years ago, perhaps it is the closest I will get to Venice.
Salley Vickers explores the boundaries between life and death, after all there is no cure for being alive, rather we must learn how to live.

David is a psychoanalyst who has chosen his speciality (counselling attempted suicide victims) due to his ongoing mental torment after witnessing the violent death of his brother as a child.
He has chosen a 'so so' private life, can't be too fagged about his own desires and passions but does care about his patients.

He finally is able to confront the other si...more
A rather immersing shrinky book. Not as in shrinky-dink, but about a shrink and his relationship with one of his clients, a failed suicide case. It is blessedly free of stereotypical shrink-speak, and there's lots too on Rome, Caravaggio and art history, which meant I had to keep re-reading the sentences because it's quite cerebral in places and I'm quite dumb these days, having read too many copies of Metro on the way home - lose concentration if sentences contain more than 5 words. Like this o...more
Marissa Morrison
The narrator is a psychotherapist treating a woman who has attempted suicide, and he knows that her life is at stake if he cannot help her. There is a great deal of romantic drama in both the woman's story and the doctor's. The novel could have easily turned treacly, but Vickers's writing is smart and refined.
Christopher James
Sally Vicker's Jungian background really shows through in this book, and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned. It's dripping with art, mythology, archetypal imagery and even a bit of physics, yet she balances all the intellectualising with the telling of of a touching human story very well indeed.

The characters of the story within the story are far more real than the narrator and the people in his life, but I don't think this is necessarily a flaw. It brings into sharp focus what is the...more
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Why the rave reviews? 1 9 Oct 14, 2012 02:25PM  
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Salley Vickers was born in Liverpool, the home of her mother, and grew up as the child of parents in the British Communist Party. She won a state scholarship to St Paul’s Girl’s School and went on to read English at Newnham College Cambridge.

She has worked, variously, as a cleaner, a dancer, an artist’s model, a teacher of children with special needs, a university teacher of literature, and a psy...more
More about Salley Vickers...
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