The Joy of Depression - Laura Sleep (2014)

The premise of this novel centres around 28-year-old Tess Acramen muddling through life. Everyone in Tess' life has an opinion on how she should live it; she is happily single but feels pressurised by her friends and family to settle down and have children. Tess is not in a relationship as such but rather engaged in a "friends with benefits" situation with her friend Matt. She works at a public relations firm where she is bullied by her formidable co-worker Arrabella. When her sister reveals she is pregnant with her third child, her friend Tilly announces her wedding and her other friend Nina relocates to New York after a promotion, Tess begins to think maybe she needs to address the issues of her job and singledom. She begins a relationship with her best friend and boss Will Hastings. Yet far from being content, slowly Tess finds herself falling into a cycle of deepening depression. In order to get better, Tess needs to finally address the question - is she living her life for herself or other people? The author deals very sensitively and positively with the issue of depression. She also highlights the pressures modern women face living in the 21st century. Tess is a people pleaser; she tends to live her life according to how others think she should. Tess is happy in her freedom and has no desire to have children but is made to feel that this is wrong. Through a combination of anti-depressants and therapy, Tess begins to realise that ultimately her happiness lies within herself and making and living with her own choices irrespective of other's feelings and opinions. This was a well written, perceptive book which dealt with some dark themes but was interspersed with humorous moments. I really enjoyed the writing and felt drawn to Tess as a character. I think a lot of women will identify with the themes in this novel. (LP)

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