Book Reviews

Review: View From The Bottom of The Well by Karen Thodsen

view from the bottom of the well

Today, 30th November, marks exactly one year since I received my first ‘like’ on wordpress (more than one actually) and my first ever follower, Ana Spoke (thank you Ana!!).  To mark the occasion I’m going to re-release the review that put me on the wordpress map (though it’s still not when I officially opened my blog).  This review is for a free book I was kindly sent by the publisher Austin Macauley for a review.  It’s a fiction book but is an important read for anyone who wants to understand mental health, especially depression better.  (Also bear in mind this is an old review now – so my style has improved since writing this)  Here is my review:

Depression is something a lot of people hear about but not everybody understands what goes on in the mind or somebody suffering from the condition. This is what this novel does.

The novel is written in the first person narrative and from the first page we learn about the main character, Ffion’s, strange new hobby of writing her own obituaries. These obituaries will be written again and again throughout the novel and give an insight into how Ffion is really feeling. The novel has a lot of humour in it to begin with but as the story progresses and Ffion falls deeper into depression, the humour starts to subside and by the end of the book, there is little to laugh about and you are left with the bitter truth of what depression does to Ffion’s mind.

The book is very short to read, and has a very easy to read narrative too but it is a VERY powerful novel and I would urge anyone who knows somebody with depression to read this book.

I have to admit to taking a bit of a personal interest in this novel. I have/do suffer from severe depression myself and I was keen to see whether this book truly depicted what depression feels like. It is shockingly accurate and at times I was a bit worried and surprised at how much of myself I could see in the main character.

The book is easy to read and there is no swearing apart from one use of a b word and the characters mention sex briefly but there isn’t anything descriptive so easy reading for all.

As I said the novel is a very powerful one and by the end I felt moved and shocked at what happens. I would gladly have given this novel a five star rating, and would still give it five stars for the actual story. However, the ending fell a bit flat for me. Throughout the novel there are mentions of studies and newspaper articles, etc about different treatments or thoughts into depression. These are usually no more than a couple of sentences and just add to what our character is doing or thinking. But in the last chapter our character tells us a lot about a lot of different studies and various thoughts on treating depression, all of which take up the first two pages of the last chapter, with the final page being the conclusion to her story.
All this I felt, although relevant to the story, could have been condensed and we could have been given the ending first, with greater detail on individual studies being given in a notes section at the end. Having this within the last chapter left me turning the page wondering what happened to Ffion and the ‘excitement’ of the ending was lost a bit by the time I read the last page.
This, though is my only gripe with this book.

I would really urge anybody, whether you suffer from depression or not, to really read this book. It isn’t a long read and you can really learn what depressed people go through and see how it is more than just feeling sad. And for those that suffer from depression it is also worth while reading too, perhaps to feel you are not alone in your depression, and to see how sharing it with others can help.

A great book, well written and one that can really change your perspective on this condition. I can really recommend it :)!

Rating: 4/5

Review published on Goodreads, click here

Book Blurb:

Ffion Delaney lives alone with her cat Sukey, she has a very interesting and responsible job in education and a handsome man in her life. Recently she has developed a fascination with obituaries – reading other people’s and writing her own! Ffion soon realises that her new found obsession, her growing lack of interest in her new relationship and her inability to concentrate on her work are symptoms of something serious

Karen Thodsen’s latest book chronicles Ffion’s struggle against the onset of depression with great honesty and compassion. The feelings of complete helplessness and the desire to retreat from all human contact are movingly expressed, as Ffion falls deeper and deeper into her well of depression, until she reaches the bottom and can finally look up and see the light above.

Even though the subject matter in this book is serious, there is still some humour that comes through dealing with children and teachers in Ffion’s working life. View from the bottom of the well describes the desolation of depression in a clear and unsentimental way and will greatly enhance the reader’s understanding of this very common illness.

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7 thoughts on “Review: View From The Bottom of The Well by Karen Thodsen

  1. Excellent review. I will recommend that book to my Work’s BeWell network that discusses mental health issues. I think books like this are powerful because most people who suffer depression (like many mental illnesses) often have that “block” that makes it feel like they are the only ones. I think when reading a book that is relatable, it can remove some of the stigma that depression still has by showing people – they aren’t allow, others feel it, others go through the same sensations/thoughts etc.

    Knowing people have “depression” is not the same as reading first hand an account that you can connect to. We know 1 in 4 people have depression, but everyone feels alone, everyone feels different in their suffering. Books like these are important.

    Great review as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad the book will be of use to someone, it certainly was good to read it. It’s a fiction book but the author I believe suffers from it and it’s a bout her own depression,and of course all the factual information can only help :). Thank you for reading :D!

      Liked by 1 person

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