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Sorrow and Bliss

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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  52,543 ratings  ·  5,101 reviews
This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn't know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.

Martha told Patrick before they got married that she didn't want to have children. He said he didn't mind either way because he has loved her since he
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 9th 2021 by 4th Estate - AU (first published September 2nd 2020)
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Sarah
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Sara I think the author left it blank to not give focus to 1 particular disorder but rather focus on the consequences and challenges of being misdiagnosed.

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  52,543 ratings  ·  5,101 reviews


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Emily May
May 17, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary, 2022
“Everything is broken and messed up and completely fine. That is what life is. It's only the ratios that change. usually on their own.”

It's not often that books this charming and irreverently funny are also as sad, moving and hard-hitting. Eleanor Oliphant is one that did it for me. Queenie is another. Sorrow and Bliss is the latest addition to the short list of "books that make me feel like laughing and crying in equal measure". I admit this list needs a catchier title.

Sorrow and Bliss is,
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PattyMacDotComma
5★
“But apparently I just exist in terms of my relationship to other people now
. . .
Days later, Ingrid . . . sent a photo of her hand, holding a Starbucks cup. Instead of asking her name, the person who took her order had just written LADY WITH PRAM.”


Martha’s sister, Ingrid, is a new mother. Martha is the troubled, funny, smart, clever, tortured young woman who doesn’t know who she is, and it’s been her sister who has helped her retain some sense of self. So it’s ironic that Ingrid is feeling a
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Barbara
What I enjoyed most about Meg Mason’s “Sorrow and Bliss” is that she portrayed mental illness in its complicated and realistic light.

In “Sorrow and Bliss”, the main character, Martha, is a true queen of self-sabotaging. She possesses awareness though. She understands she’s messing up, and she knows there is something wrong with her. Something happened to her when she turned seventeen; she can’t explain it other than it’s like a bomb went off in her brain. Basically she’s a healthy and happy per
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Vanessa
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was expecting this to be another run of the mill story about a depressed woman, instead I got a searingly honest view of a woman Martha who experiences the tumultuous effects of a undiagnosed then diagnosed mental health illness, seeing her navigate her emotional ups and downs was a bleak insight into such an insidious disease, her condition making for complicated relationships with everyone around her. Although this book discusses the heaviness of depression it’s also lightened with many many ...more
Andrea
Sep 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know how sometimes a book comes along at just the right time? Well, for me this bizarre year of 2020 was exactly the right time to read a book like Sorrow and Bliss. I adored it; every single page of it. Reflecting on it for a few days now, I think the reason it has had such an impact on me is that it is the most unconventional story of hope, at such an unconventional time. Other readers may not see it that way, but that's ok - it's a very personal thing.

Martha and her younger sister Ingrid
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Beverly
Jul 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
I went back and forth between 3 and 4 stars. This is a quick read and an interesting character study of a woman with an undiagnosed mental illness who is funny and smart and really mean to the people who love her most. It was kind of hard to be on her side. She, Martha, has just turned forty and has just separated from Patrick, her sweet, gentle husband. He has loved her since he was fourteen. She must be breathtakingly beautiful, because Patrick puts up with a lot.

I'm her defense, she is ill wi
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Jaclyn
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Damn I loved this – make sure it’s on your wishlist (Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason). It’s an anti-love love story. Mason has managed to configure a novel about women’s mental health and self-sabotage and instead of using high literary stylings as Moshfegh or Broder would she’s utilised romance novel tropes and just turned it all on its head making for very accessible and downright delightful reading and yet she’s still kept some of the pathos and darkness. Wildly impressive and so damn satisfyin ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
It took me way too long to read this book. I had a feeling I would love it. The title Sorrow and Bliss could not be more apropos. The main character, Martha, is the center of this deeply personal share of her life, juggling her mental health beginning as a teenager.

The writing pulled me in immediately. It’s sincere and brutally honest. I have many favorite attributes of books, but sincerity… authenticity in a character’s story… I’m guaranteed to love it when it’s a smoothly written, interesting
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Larry H
Jul 24, 2021 rated it did not like it
This is a book that had been on my TBR for a while. I’d seen a few 5-star reviews from Bookstagram friends, and the general average rating on both Goodreads and Amazon is above 4 stars, so when my friend Lindsay said that she also had this one her list, I suggested a buddy read.

The best part? The discussion with her about the book. Sometimes a book just rubs you the wrong way and if this hadn’t been a buddy read I would have DNF’d this. (While I was reading this I kept hoping Lindsay wasn’t lovi
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Meike
Apr 10, 2022 rated it really liked it
Now Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2022
Mason explores a very painful and difficult topic: How do you determine whether a person's behavior can be ascribed to their mental illness or whether it must be ascribed to them simply behaving badly, on their own agency? And she does pull that off in a narrative told from the perspective of the person suffering from an unspecified mental condition: Martha has known that something is wrong since she was a teenager, but it takes years until s
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Anne Bogel
Jun 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Think Where'd You Go Bernadette meets Fleabag, with a dash of Bridget Jones’s Diary thrown in.

Ever since "a bomb went off in her brain" when she was a teenager, 40-year-old Martha has been coping with an unnamed mental illness. She can be cutting and rude, and completely lacks a filter, wreaking emotional havoc on those around her. Avoiding a heavy tone, Mason explores the nuances of severe mental illness, providing an interior perspective of how it might feel to live within its grasp.

While Ma
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Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Now winner of the 2022 British Book Awards Best Novel Prize and shortlisted for the 2022 Women's Prize

I saw shame and hope and grief, guilt and love, sorrow and bliss, kitchens, sisters and mothers, joy, fear, rain, Christmas, gardens, sex and sleep and presence and absence, the parties, Patrick’s goodness. My striking unlikeability and attention-seeking punctuation.

I could see what I had now. Everything people want in books, a home, money, to not be alone, all there in the shadow of the one
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Trudie
This travelled a disappointing trajectory from delightfully Flagbag-esque to an almost unbearable trudge through scenes of marital misery.

( I could / should add more explanation here but I am coming to realise I don't review particularly fairly novels dealing with relationships/marriage/babies and general domestic malaise so I will leave things as is )

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Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
I do not know how I feel!!!!! I found this to be incredibly well-written and I enjoyed the process of reading this book, but I still just.... don't think I liked it very much??? This journey I am taking into adult general fiction / adult literary fiction has been a wild ride. I'm still trying to figure out what I do and don't like and I think that I have learned that I don't love books written as short little vignettes. I definitely prefer a more concrete story line, and this book did not have t ...more
Angus (Just Angus)
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If this was the last book I ever read I think I would die happy. This honestly blew me away. So heartwarming yet heartbreaking at the same time. I don't know how but this book made me feel every single emotion at once. ...more
Bianca
3.5 - 4

This novel has been promoted in Australia as "humorous and heartwrenching, for those who loved Fleabag and Normal People". When I spotted the newly added library audiobook I jumped at the opportunity to listen to it.

I kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting for the humour to make an appearance. It never did. I was expecting irreverence, some shocking behaviours and observations, a la Fleabag, those never occurred. I got annoyed with myself for (partially) falling for the marketing. While t
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leah
Sep 19, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
incredible. i can’t remember the last time a book emotionally resonated with me so deeply and on such a personal level. we all need a book to make us feel like this to remind us why we read. i also teared up twice but let’s not talk about it. [rtc]
Susan
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
I think it was fairly well written but SO depressing. Can't go along with all the 4 and 5 star ratings, maybe this book just wasn't for me. The fact that the author didn't even specify what the actual diagnosis turned out to be, instead opting to put in a blank line (_____) whenever it was mentioned or even thought about - well that was annoying and frustrating. ...more
Claire Fuller
If The Bell Jar and Flea Bag had a child = Sorrow and Bliss. Full of genuinely funny asides and dialogue cut through with some serious mental health issues. Sometimes the two extremes mixed in a swirling, heady, tragic delight. Only occasionally did everyone seem just a little too witty and maybe the mental health challenges were resolved a little too easily by the end. Really though the witty tragedy, the sorrow and the bliss win out. Recommended.
emma
Sep 27, 2022 marked it as to-read
trying to sit at the cool kids table (reading a book i saw on instagram)
Roman Clodia
Mar 22, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A moving, riotous, bleak and yet ultimately hopeful novel that deals with big topics - mental illness, families, love, forgiveness - in an unsentimental and nuanced way. I loved Martha, the narrator, for her sardonic voice and her sometimes unconscionable behaviour, something which makes her feel utterly real rather than a mere authorial device to tackle the book's issues. It's a rare writer who can manage so much darkness with such an ability to not wallow in banal corniness or descend to the m ...more
Brandice
Feb 24, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sorrow and Bliss is the story of Martha, a 40 year old woman who moves back in with her parents after her husband, Patrick, leaves their executive home. He’s reached his breaking point dealing with Martha’s behavior after trying to be a steady, supportive presence for several years.

Martha suffers from mental illness (unspecified) and has several highs and lows. She’s seen countless doctors and therapists but hasn’t ever been able to find the helpful answers she is seeking.

The story flips back
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Tatiana
May 14, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2022
Read it in a day.

At first, I found this story exceedingly reminiscent of My Year of Rest and Relaxation and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, both of which I had mixed feeling about. Sorrow and Bliss is also about a woman struggling with her mental health. But even though this felt familiar, British humor never fails to suck me in. (I don't know how exactly an Australian author managed this.) Depressing wit remains my catnip, and this book was both funny and tremendously sad. Eventually this
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Sally Hepworth
Jan 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
SENSATIONAL
nastya
Mar 26, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now shortlisted for the Women's Prize! I'm glad!

Martha is 40, her editor, who’s bossing her around, is in their early 20s, she has no career, her husband just left, she moved back with her parents and she lost all her girlfriends to motherhood. She’s also been depressed since her teenage years.

I know, I know, another novel about the middle age crisis, how creative! A story about a self-destructive woman, who had so many opportunities and great people in her life, fucking it up, that we keep read
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Joana da Silva
Aug 12, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This book, oh my god, this book. I bought it on a whim months ago because the story seemed interesting and I was into reading about despair, then proceeded to leave it gathering digital dust on my Kobo until now. I hate people who say things like 'I read it before the hype', 'I knew about it first', blablabla, but I am quite proud of having been one of the people who bought this book before the hype because it makes me feel better about my instincts that so often lead me to the shittiest books o ...more
Kristine
Martha Friel is having a tough time. She has decided to divorce her husband, Patrick who seems to deeply love her and has always been there for her. The issue is that Martha is mentally ill. She knows this and has known it since she was 17. It affects how she can participate in the world. She is very close with her family, especially her sister Ingrid. They have their moments, but it is so clear how much they both love each other. Even though Martha gets sick, and appears to suffer from severe d ...more
Emily M
Mar 31, 2022 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. It does what it does very well, I just wish it had done something else.

There’s a view among many people I admire here on Goodreads that literary and non-literary books are a false distinction; books are well-written or not, regardless of their genre. I like the democratic impulse of this argument, but I don’t agree. I DO think some excellent books are unfairly pigeonholed because of subject matter, but to me Sorrow and Bliss exemplified that there is a difference, in what a literary b
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daniella ❀
an unexpected 5-star read. i don't know what else to tell you except read this book ...more
Sarah
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-for-me, fiction
1.5 rounded up

There was way more sorrow than bliss in this novel for my liking. I'd venture that readers who enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine would find something to enjoy here, as Mason employs a similar writing style to tell Martha's story, but both books rubbed me up the wrong way in their portrayal of mental illness and the use of humour in the storytelling - perhaps in both instances it's a brand of humour that just doesn't work for me or maybe it's the combination of the two tha
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Meg Mason began her career at the Financial Times and The Times of London. Her work has since appeared in The Sunday Times, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sunday Telegraph. She has written humour for The New Yorker and Sunday STYLE, was a GQ columnist for five years and a regular contributor to Vogue, marie claire, and ELLE.

Her first book Say It Again in a Nice Voice (HarperCollins), a memoir o
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“Everything is broken and messed up and completely fine. That is what life is. It's only the ratios that change. usually on their own.” 51 likes
“Martha,” he said afterwards, lying next to me. “Everything is broken and messed up and completely fine. That is what life is. It’s only the ratios that change. Usually on their own. As soon as you think that’s it, it’s going to be like this forever, they change again.” That is what life was, and how it continued for three years after that. The ratios changing on their own, broken, completely fine, a holiday, a leaking pipe, new sheets, happy birthday, a technician between nine and three, a bird flew into the window, I want to die, please, I can’t breathe, I think it’s a lunch thing, I love you, I can’t do this anymore, both of us thinking it would be like that forever.” 30 likes
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