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Sorrow and Bliss

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  2,750 ratings  ·  362 reviews
A compulsively readable debut novel—spiky, sharp, intriguingly dark, and tender—about a woman on the edge that combines the psychological insight of Sally Rooney with the sharp humor of Nina Stibbe and the emotional resonance of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

Martha Friel just turned forty. Once, she worked at Vogue and planned to write a novel. Now, she creates inter
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published February 9th 2021 by Harper (first published September 2nd 2020)
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Shona Parker It's deliberately left vague by Mason but could perhaps be bipolar.…moreIt's deliberately left vague by Mason but could perhaps be bipolar.(less)

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Average rating 4.26  · 
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 ·  2,750 ratings  ·  362 reviews

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Start your review of Sorrow and Bliss
“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
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
Jan 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jaclyn Crupi
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Melissa (Mel’s Bookshelf)
This book is featured in my November Wrap up, check it out HERE

I was sent this by Harper Collins and must admit I didn’t really like the look of it. I had it quite low down on my TBR until I saw a few trusted Goodreads friends review it – and they were RAVING about it! When I read their reviews it sounded like something I would enjoy so I dove right in.

Martha has just turned 40 and she finds that she is miserable in her life and the decisions she has made. When her husband ends up walking out on
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

Sorrow and Bliss is a novel that claims to be both sad and funny and it immediately caught my attention. I was highly intrigued by journalist Meg Mason’s latest novel, especially as it came with a five star recommendation from a close friend. Sorrow and Bliss offers a topical and thought provoking journey around areas of life, love, family relations, marriage and the sense of self. Sorrow and Bliss is a nominal read that I valued.

Meet Martha. This troubled w
Angus (Just Angus)
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
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
This novel is laugh out loud funny yet profoundly sad at the same time and I never wanted it to end.

Sorrow and Bliss is a story about the life of Martha, from her childhood days in London surrounded by her immediate and extended family. Martha’s parents are both artists who did not reach their full potential, that is, get rich. With the help of Martha’s aunt they are able to make a comfortable life together. Martha battles a mental health issue that she does not have the label for. She finall
Pauline [paulineisreading]
And just when i thought i’ve read enough incredible novels this year, Sorrow and Bliss came along and blew my mind!

This book is about many things - it’s about motherhood, mental illnesses and the stigma around them. It’s also about the love between sisters, the complexities and layers of romantic relationships, and so much more. At the centre of it all, we follow Martha. She’s been wrestling with life and mental stability (and ultimately, happiness) ever since experiencing a mental breakdown tha
Kaz Kershaw
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Devastating, funny, poignant, awkward and hopeful. Easily one of my favourite reads of 2020.
Michael Livingston
Smart, funny and sad - Sorrow and Bliss is a wildly entertaining book about mental illness, packed with jokes, pathos and memorable characters. The portrayal of the relationship between narrator Martha and her sister is particularly wonderful.
Theresa Smith
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, aww2020
‘I seem to find it more difficult to be alive than other people.’

My heart is so full of so many emotions after reading this utterly perfect and deeply insightful novel. From the first sentence to the last; if you read one book this year, make it this one. If you are intending on buying a book for someone as a gift, make it this one. Seriously, it’s the best.

‘Normal people say, I can’t imagine feeling so bad I’d actually want to die. I do not try and explain that it isn’t that you want to die. It
"Sorrow and Bliss" by Meg Mason is a very unflinching and honest portrayal of mental illness. Our main protagonist, Martha has been suffering from mental illness since she was 17. She is 40 as the story opens. Martha lives in London, is married to a doctor, Patrick, a former family friend. We get to see Martha's descent into depression and despair, and all the ways it effects her well-being, job performance, and relationship with her extended family.

I feel like the author did an excellent job ma
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You might be surprised to know that I rarely get so engrossed in a book that I'm reading for hours - I think there's an assumption that people who 'read lots of books' devote great rafts of time to the pursuit. I wish that were the case! In reality, my reading is done in short bursts - ten minutes at breakfast and lunch, a couple of five minute 'power-reads' during the day, and then half an hour before I sleep. But occasionally, I have to put everything on hold because I've become absolutely eng ...more
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
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Karys McEwen
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-books-2020
My favourite book of the year so far
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read YOU BE MOTHER, Meg Mason’s previous book, in 2017, and loved it so much that it made its way onto my “all-time-favourites” list. I couldn’t wait to read her latest one!

Mason writes with so much heart and humour that it is impossible not to get emotionally involved in her stories. Whilst Abi, our main protagonist in YOU BE MOTHER, is a young, inexperienced mother looking for a family to belong to, Martha in SORROW AND BLISS has chosen not to be a mother, for reasons we will gradually get t
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Even though this is a story of the main character dealing with crushing depression and improperly diagnosed mental illness, it is so incredibly funny. I laughed out loud so many times I lost count. Told with great humour and sarcasm, it gave me a great lift in my reading.
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: october-reads
'I seem to find it more difficult to be alive than other people.’

This quote from Sorrow & Bliss by Meg Mason is one that will stick with me for a very long time. Sorrow & Bliss tells the story of Martha, a woman who is trying to make her way through life with a mental illness. It is her journey of trying to figure out who she is, what is ‘wrong’ with her, & basically how to live. It is super character driven (my fave kind of reads!) & it has drawn comparisons to Normal People & Fleabag, & I can
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The characters in this book are so cleverly done, and they are the reason I’ve fallen in love with this book. Especially Martha. I’m so intrigued by her and all her complexities, even when I wasn’t liking her very much. Her mother lecturing her about how she wasn’t the only one in pain through all of this, maybe oddly, was one of my favourite moments – only your mum can give you a talking to like that!

Meg Mason knows how to write real people with all their contradictions and quirks, and as a re
Cathie Sawyer
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sorrow and Bliss is a raw and honest exploration into the suffering and struggles mental illness causes in one's life, in their relationships and for their families and partners. 

Meet Martha. 

She knows there is something very wrong with her, she’s just not sure what.

Her problem has affected her since she was seventeen when one day she curled up under her desk and refused to come out for days on end. All through her life she continues to have these episodes of varying lengths where she must hide
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was great, unexpectedly great! I thought I was over reading about the lives of 30 somethings and how they suffered the angst and disappointments of adult life, but it turns out I'm not. This is just the right level of snark for my tastes. It has lines in it that make you smirk, things that you've thought in your interior life which make you want to say them out loud, but you don't have the courage to, are our main characters currency. I think it is mislabeled as a funny book, it's way too s ...more
Georgia Hill
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not one for reviews these days but this one deserves all the praise because it is GUTTINGLY BEAUTIFUL. The clarity of expression, honesty of the sadness and the humour, and how every character feels so vivid and rich and flawed and felt. I feel so seen. What a relief it is to read something that shows that there’s beauty in even the most painful, persistent of struggles. Read it. Now.
Georgie O'Dwyer
Jan 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy Moly. Great.
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t actually think that this book was really for me until a pivotal scene (probably over half way through) that floored me and then I was hooked. This is a fraught, moving, funny novel about mental illness and relationships. It just took its time.
Feb 03, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
2-3 stars. I’m not so sure about this story. There was more sorrow than bliss for me. This is the story of Martha, who has an unnamed mental illness, who we meet as a child. The book is quite genuine and honest in its depiction of the illness and its impact on her and everyone around her. It’s not sugar coated and not over done either. A bit annoying that it’s not named but perhaps that provides more intrigue and less compartmentalising by the reader. But there is just an overwhelming feeling of ...more
Jordyn Lightyear
This book is exquisite. It left my heart hurting, yet hopeful. Hence the title, sorrow and bliss. These photos are my interpretation of the title, although my sorrow is definitely more serious than sad 😅

I'd be lying if I said I loved this book the whole way through. I really wanted to like it from start to finish but it was entirely the wrong read for the week after finding out Melbourne's stage 4 restrictions were being extended.

It's certainly a great book, really well written with realistic, l
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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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