She is a journalist in the Scottish newspaper Observer. She has a stable and loving family, a good and successful job, and loyal and funny friends. Yet, somehow her life is a total disaster. She misses airplanes and appointments, she spends 2 nights in Thailand in a stranger taxi driver’s home, and she falls in love with a married man. Her name is Lorna Martin, a successful woman of 35, who has a lot of dysfunctional relationships with men, who doesn’t know who she is or what she wants of life. After the last stupid thing in her life, she decides to take measures in her own hands, draws a loan, and starts seeing a therapist to figure out what to do.
At the beginning Martin starts her own rubric in the magazine Grazia called Meetings with the Therapist. People love it so much that she decides to turn it into a book, Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Yes, the analogue is quite right – something like Carry Bradshaw but real. Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is the true story of a woman, whose life is a total mess. Martin is painfully honest, strikingly brutal, and amusingly ironic. I loved the book and I am sure every woman will. Lorna manages to uncover all those little secrets and mistakes we women tend to make but are too ashamed to share. And Lorna shares all of this using a unique sarcastic voice, which makes her novel easy and entertaining to read.
I sense that many of you will react Oh boy, yet another one of those self help books. Lorna Martin’s Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is so much more than that. Even if you don’t believe that seeing a therapist can help you solve your life issues, you will find Martin’s honesty absolutely lovable. It takes a lot of bravery to unbare one’s soul to that extent. Because Lorna doesn’t reserve any saucy detail from her peripetia – from the unfortunate relationship with the married lawyer, whom she tortures with endless sentimental (and drunk) messages to the envy towards her sister and her friends’ successes.
What I loved the most about the book is the character of Lorna’s therapist, Dr. J. She is no regular therapist. Unfortunately, in the UK therapy is a very expensive pleasure and Lorna has to draw a loan since one seance with Dr. J costs more than her monthly rent (imagine that). At first Lorna absolutely detest Dr. J and her habit of answering every question with As you wish. Absolutely marvelous. What Dr. J (of course in my modest opinion) attempts to do is uncover Lorna’s anger to determine why her life doesn’t make any sense. After 12 months of intensive therapy (3 times a week) Lorna is a calmer, more organized, and more confident woman. Her misfortunes are behind her and finally her life is headed towards the right direction. Without hidden and suppressed feelings, without stupid and inconsiderate acts, and without obsession with men and relationships.
I recommend Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown because it is light and amusing to read. Martin’s voice is compelling and her ability to satirize herself is admirable. Do not be tempted to believe that this is just a pro-therapy propaganda book. Recently I read an interview with Martin in the Bulgarian version of Grazia. Four years after therapy she is happily married and expecting her first child. Seems as if all of us can use a bit of therapy to help us discover feelings we didn’t even knew we had, to get to know ourselves better, and to improve our relationship with the surrounding world. Lorna is a perfect example of the heeling effect of this therapy. Care (or may I say dare) to try?