Thursday, 5 October 2017

Review: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I downloaded this one because it was referenced in the last book I read, Paul Tremblay's A Head Full of Ghosts. Also, it's a short story (about 30 pages) and free - and I'm shallow, what can I say? But I'm really glad I did, because it's a fabulous little psychological suspense about a woman slowly driven mad - by her wallpaper!

"One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin."

The story was written in 1892, in the form of a journal, and has pertinent things to say about how mental illness was viewed in those times, along with women's role in society. Despite the sad subject matter there are flashes of dry humour and the author's introduction at the beginning explains how she was inspired to write the story after suffering from post-natal depression.

The narrator has recently moved to a large, decaying house with her husband to recover from 'temporary nervous depression'. Her husband, who is also her doctor, has refused to let her work (write), so she has nothing to occupy her mind other than to lounge about their bedroom and obsess about the wallpaper. She feels that, 

"There is something strange about the house - I can feel it. I even said so to John one moonlight evening, but he said what I felt was a draught, and shut the window."

It's a little gem of a story, and I'm so pleased I discovered it. There are several free versions available to download, but I chose the Wisehouse Classics one because I liked the cover (yes, shallow!) and it contained the original illustrations.

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