Reviews

  • "Astoundingly original, this impressive debut belongs on the shelf with your Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler collections."

    New York Times
  • "The Illness Lesson is a brilliant, suspenseful, beautifully-executed psychological thriller. With power, subtlety, and keen intelligence, Clare Beams has somehow crafted a tale that feels like both classical ghost story and like a modern (and very timely) scream of female outrage. I stayed up all night to finish reading it, and I can still feel its impact thrumming through my mind and body. A masterpiece."

    Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
  • "‘Subtle, clever, suspenseful . . . builds to a shocking climax’"

    Diane Setterfield
  • "Alcott meets Shirley Jackson, with a splash of Margaret Atwood. It’s dark, quirky and even titillating . . . on the edge between realism and ghost story"

    The Washington Post
  • "A top pick for the coming year . . . this haunting novel blends historical fiction with a timely comment on women’s bodies and minds, and those who think they can control them. Unmissable."

    Stylist
  • "A Sunday Times Books to Read in 2020: A classic ghost story for fans of Picnic at Hanging Rock, Deborah Levy, Jeffrey Eugenides"

    Sunday Times Style
  • "The gripping novel meditates on how an all-male establishment can deny women’s pain, and how the consequences can shape a society."

    Vanity Fair
  • "Beams takes risk after risk in this, her first novel, and they all seem to pay off. Her ventriloquizing of the late 19th century, her delicate-as-lace sentences, and the friction between the unsettling thinking of the period and its 21st century resonances make for an electrifying read. A satisfyingly strange novel from the one-of-a-kind Beams"

    Kirkus
  • "The Illness Lesson truly shook me. In prose so sharp it cuts through the decades and arrives at the present day, Clare Beams takes a shocking moment out of true history, and brings it to life. You want to know how horrifying things happened while decent people looked on and did nothing? Read this novel. I believed every nuance of these characters’ thoughts, the conflicts waging war inside their own minds, their devastation, and their courage. I was immensely moved by this story, and the people who populate its pages."

    Mary Beth Keane, author of 'Ask Again, Yes'
  • "Clare Beams’ writing has a hypnotic quality. Her images are rendered with inventive, piercing clarity (apples knocking together like knees!), yet she is also doing something quite special with rhythm and pacing, creating a subtle soundscape that completely envelops you in the narrative. Reading The Illness Lesson I experienced the exquisite sense of vertigo that is only ever sparked by a writer who’s so in control of her story . . . That bond of trust did not disappoint: The Illness Lesson shines with generosity and rage, and I was both chilled to the bone by it, and felt comforted and held."

    Livia Franchini, author of 'Shelf Life'