Copenhagen, 1968. Lise, a children's book writer and married mother of three, is becoming increasingly haunted by disembodied faces and taunting voices. Convinced that her housekeeper and husband are plotting against her, she descends into a terrifying world of sickness, pills and institutionalization. But is sanity in fact a kind of sickness? And might mental illness itself lead to enlightenment?
Brief, intense and haunting, Ditlevsen's novel recreates the experience of madness from the inside, with all the vividness of lived experience.
The fact that Ditlevsen was herself one of insanity's intimates does much to explain this book's harrowing authenticity. But The Faces - in Tiina Nunnally's very deliberate, close-to-the-nerve translation - rises above a case study because, working from the inside, Ditlevsen is able to explore the surprising contours of Lise's experience: from her point of view, madness can be funny, soft and secure, and far more enlightening than the "reality" it struggles to evade
A searing but never sensational account of a usually hyped theme - the struggle of the artist to do her work, without guilt about family or the outside world. Admirably without self-pity, and often ironic, Ditlevsen is a voice to heed
these are the best books I have read this year 'Praise for the Copenhagen Trilogy'
Mordant, vibrantly confessional... A masterpiece 'Praise for the Copenhagen Trilogy'
Wrenching sadness and pitch-black comedy ... Sharp, tough and tender 'Praise for the Copenhagen Trilogy'