Little Bandaged Days

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 23 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

I loved and didn't love this book!  It was a beautiful piece of prose and difficult to believe it's the author's debut novel.  It is essentially watching the train crash of Erika's decline into post natal depression/madness. It's also about missing husbands, working overseas, motherhood, not speaking the language, isolation and loneliness. I think this book book will divide readers!

"We can say so many words sometimes and never say a thing"
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan MacMillan for a free ARC of this book.

While the story started out well enough, it soon proved to be a slow and tedious read. None of the dialogue is within quote marks, which can make for difficult reading at times. Also, we're in the head of the main character all the time who is slowly spiralling into madness. At no point could I say this was a fun or entertaining read, and with the unsatisfactory ending, I now wonder why I ever spent about five hours reading this novel. 

While some of the writing was well executed, I don't get the point of the book. It isn't fun. It doesn't entertain. I can see no message or point to it at all. It gets a soft 2 stars from me.
***

NOTE ON RATINGS:  I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to, I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.

5 STARS: IT WAS AMAZING! I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!  — Highly Recommended.
4 STARS: I WOULD PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER — Go read this book.
3 STARS: IT WAS GOOD! — An okay read.  Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it.  
2 STARS: I MAY HAVE LIKED A FEW THINGS —Lacking in some areas: writing, characterisation, and/or problematic plot lines. 
1 STAR: NOT MY CUP OF TEA —Lots of issues with this book.
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A strange novel into a mothers descent into madness and depression. I did enjoy the story but found it depressing too - not for everyone.
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I found this book a little intrusive into the mind of a young mother living in I assumed a strange country with her husband M who is always at work. She is left with two small children E and B 
I found the way that everyone was referred to as simply a letter. The mother is obviously sinking into post partum psychosis. 
I found it a little too deep and very disturbing 
Glad I had an opportunity to read before it’s published, not for me
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Now this is a strange one!

There was alot I liked about this book but also alot I didn't. Maybe because some of it hits close to home,  I'm really not sure.

An extremely and cleverly written account of a mothers descent into lunacy. Is it madness, depression... I'm not sure!

The author writes the characters in such a way that you cant help but get sucked in to the story, even though alot of the time your not actually sure who those characters really are, apart from an initial. Its honestly a really strange one, one I cant fully grasp or explain even now.

The dialogue is sparse with no real interaction or chatter, you feel like your reading the diary of a mother slowly going crazy in her lonely world.

It's an intense and slightly depressing read that could be uncomfortable for some but also one that is compelling. 

Its left me with questions that will never be answered... like why wasnt anyone noticing or helping?

In all honesty I'm not sure if I'd recommend to anyone but I wouldn't dissuade anyone either.

Thanks to netgalley and the publishers for the ARC.
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I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand I felt for the mothers decline, on the other I found the book quite tedious and slow. Also the use of the French language, all those ''Zees ' bothered me!
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Wilder’s novel is beautifully written, painfully claustrophobic story about a woman’s descent into madness; unpredictable, frighteningly compelling and brutally honest, it grapples with the harsh conditions of motherhood and mother’s own identity.
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A quirky read about a young mother's descent into madness after moving to Geneva for her husband's new job. Her husband, M, is away from home more and more and she finds caring for her two children more and more challenging. The ending left me confused and wanting to know more.
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Thank you to @netgalley, Kyra Wilder and the publisher for giving me copy of this in exchange for an honest review. For me this book was very cleverly written and I'm surprised that it is a debut novel from a new author. A fantastic insight into the mind of a woman wrought with depression, anxiety and social isolation with the added pressure of 2 young children. The writing style is chaotic yet beautiful and truly allows you to get inside the protagonists train of thought. We see how scattered her mind becomes as the novel progresses and I actually really like the fact she referred to her family members by their initials, it shows us how removed and isolated she feels from the rest of the world, even from her own family. My only issue with this is the second storyline running alongside the main narrative, this alludes to something that is never actually clarified at the end, making that part of the book effectively pointless. The rest of the narrative, although confusing at times, is a representation of the chaos in her mind, the lack of human connection she has and is done brilliantly. I cannot deny the Wilder's skill but the second narrative is really what stopped me from giving this a 5star rating. I'll be looking out for future reads!
⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
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Written lyrically and showing a spiral into mental illness, this novel started well for me, but unfortunately didn’t keep pace and grab me enough. One I will try again at some other point, but difficult to read in the wrong kind of way.
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This is a beautifully written, lyrical book following a young mother’s descent into madness. In put me in mind of a modern-day The Yellow Wallpaper. The narrator moves to Geneva when her husband starts a new job, and while he is away for increasingly long work days and business trips, she is home alone with their two young children, known only as E and B. Increasingly isolated, experiencing the world around her as sterile and threatening and struggling with the language, the narrator becomes obsessive, paranoid and compulsive. She loses track of time and occasionally is too afraid to leave the apartment. Her efforts to be a good mother and the right kind of wife strain her still further. The writing is beautiful and the imagery is really strong. Powerfully written, the sense of unease lingers after you have finished reading.
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Little Bandaged Days is a phenomenal debut novel by Kyra Wilder that is as original as it is, scarily, recognisable - at least at the outer ring of its vortex - to any sleep-deprived mother.

However, I actually think Little Bandaged Days is more a portrayal of mental illness than motherhood and, by God, it's a compelling portrait. As much a page-turner as any tightly-plotted thriller yet with barely a plot to propel it, it's a descent into madness that pulls the reader down gently with the protagonist, always gunning for her - a young American mother relocated to Geneva by her husband's job - and increasingly hoping she and her kids will survive. (Her husband I had no time or sympathy for at all.)

Unlike some other reviewers, I loved the initialising of her children’s names as it equates them with her. This becomes clear when she runs them together: "I felt such a sinking then, without the keys, without any way back into that place where E and B and I could be alone together."

I found this brilliantly original, clever and then suddenly obvious all at the same time: ‘I’ is a tiny word with a huge meaning and it is also a letter. By levelling herself, ‘I’ with E and B she diminishes herself – literally her own sense of self – and inflates the stature, the significance, of her children in her life. They are all equal. 
And this device encouraged me to imagine my own names for E and B so that I began to feel almost a sense or ownership of them, akin to maternal responsibility. I never judged their mother but I desperately wanted her to get better so that they would be safe. 

The style of writing is, I think, unique - or at least I haven't read another book written in quite the same style; conversational, albeit a one-sided conversation - beautifully poetic at times yet barbed with uncertainty and a slight lack of confidence. The sentence structure is striking yet underplayed, often ending on a clarifying down-note that has the curious effect of deadening the sentence – almost in bathos. For example, ‘There was a part of me that really believed sheets could do that, could make someone feel that way.’ I could hear the narrator saying these words and felt a ping of sympathy and sadness for her at every full stop. 

There is so much more to say about Little Bandaged Days - the loss of agency of a woman who surrenders her identity in exchange for motherhood and the expat 'wifestyle' of a successful man (is there something slightly Faustian about this, if procreation represents eternal life?) - the still waters of Lake Geneva reflecting (literally) the seemingly-perfect lives of expat families whilst hiding what goes on under the surface / behind closed doors. The theme of 'doors' itself is a recurring one; doors shut you in, they shut people out, they open up possibilities. 

The foreshadowing scenes of the protagonist in a psychiatric hospital, where she seems locked inside her own psychosis, directing her expansive inner thoughts to a cleaner, are really quite heart-breaking. It becomes clear how much she has to say but can’t; instead, when assessed by doctors or meets her lawyer, she caws like a crow, imitates a toad or simply repeats the sign she has read and fixated on about visiting hours. 

My only tiny quibble with Little Bandaged Days is with the marketing approach. The cover strapline, ‘How thin is the line between motherhood and madness?’ implies that all mothers are at risk of madness – or rather that they are more susceptible to madness than men, or than women who choose not to be mothers, or women who can’t be mothers. It also indulges the modern fetishisation of motherhood; the idea that sex and its consequences is a new phenomenon to be lauded and commercialised. Whereas actually several millennia of women have become mothers before us; the vast majority of them without slipping into psychosis. (Although of course post-natal depression is a very real and common experience.)
Besides which, the narrator is also impacted – I would say as much as she is by motherhood – by being a daughter herself. The flashbacks to her childhood and glimpses into her adult relationship with her mother do not suggest an emotionally healthy upbringing.
I'm only mentioning this here because I would have read Little Bandaged Days sooner without the reference to motherhood on its cover; it almost put me off. But as a credible, compelling portrait of the loss of self and the unstoppable onset of psychosis, I found it utterly marvellous. 

I'm also confused by several mentions in other reviews, and also the book's blurb on the Picador website, to the protagonist's name, Erika. In the Kindle edition of Little Bandaged Days I read, the narrator remains anonymous throughout and I think this is much better, in keeping with the initialising of her family's names. By keeping her identity blank, she could be any one of us. 

But these are minor quibbles and nothing to do with the novel itself, which I'll be recommending to all my friends. I was flabbergasted to see a few negative reviews of Little Bandaged Days on NetGalley. I know literary appreciation is entirely subjective but honestly these people should have their Kindles confiscated. So please don't be put off by any negative reviews: if you like truly great, original writing and you're interested in the human mind and its relationship to the sense of self and identity, you will love Little Bandaged Days.

Huge thanks to NetGalley and Picador for the free copy of this book.
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Reading this book stressed me out. I mean that in both a good and bad way. Good in the sense that if I have a real, solid reaction to a book then it's connected with me, but bad as I genuinely felt a little anxious as it went on and at some points debated if I should keep reading. I did keep reading though - couldn't stop, it turned out - as I needed to know the climax of this story!

And what is the story? Well, Little Bandaged Days tells of a mother's gradual descent into depression and madness. She has two small children; a baby and a toddler and finds herself living in Geneva when her husband gets a new job there. The change of scenery, inability to speak the language, her husband's constant long working hours and emotional neglect, plus the general monotony of tending to the every need of two small children leaves her isolated, alone and with little adult company or conversation. Due to this, she retreats further and further into her own head, with serious consequences. What makes this so clever is that she is not oblivious to what is happening to her, but there's just nothing she can do, 'It was just a question of practicality, of having to outsmart myself because, well, I couldn't quite trust myself.'

The narrator's children are similar ages to my own, so although this novel portrays an extreme version of events, it was, in places, relatable and certainly had a visceral effect on me. Any book that even hints at something happening to a child is enough to give me heart palpitations. For reasons never explained (although I guess it could be that the whole novel is meant to be her psychiatric report) she refers to her children and husband only by their first initial (baby B, toddler E and husband M). I didn't mind this, but it takes getting used to and makes these characters feel a little 2D, especially her husband.

Overall though, this book is very skilfully written; as the narrator's grip on reality slips, we are right there with her - some of her reasoning even makes a little sense - and, as I mentioned previously, it was so well done as to make me anxious while reading. I really enjoyed the tone and there were some wonderful, clever sentences that summed up huge parenting feelings in such a succinct way: 'With children the future is always unimaginable, it is so uncertain as to be nothing. Less than that.' Also: 'Mothering is a hard job, it needs a lot of space to breathe.' This might not be a book for everyone, but it is a carefully crafted character study of a woman your heart just cries out for. In terms of evocative, emotional writing that addresses an issue many mums might see little elements of themselves in (albeit milder versions), Little Bandaged Days is brilliant.
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I found this book slow and struggled with the storyline. Not for me and I wouldn’t recommend this. Sorry.
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I didn't enjoy this book.  I read at least half intrigued to know what happens next but from there on it didn't seem to go anywhere other than right over my head.  This book is basically a monologue.  The protagonist Erika never speaks to anyone, even conversations with her children are just thoughts in her mind, how she imagined a conversation with them might go.

I'm really not sure what story the author was trying to put across.  The style of writing was good but in the end I just didn't understand the book.  By 80% of the way through I was becoming irritated with it.  The passages in italics made no sense other than it would appear the protagonist may possibly have been in a psychiatric hospital, she may possibly have been suffering post-natal psychosis - who knows, the reader never finds out.  Nor can the reader make out when Erika may have been in a psychiatric hospital, was it before her move to Geneva and after the birth of her first child or is it where she is now and the rest of the book is her looking back - no idea.  The book just ends with the reader none the wiser after reading all those words.  Just words strung together in a haphazard way which in the end made no sense at all, not to me anyway.  On reaching the end I was left feeling frustrated and felt I'd completely wasted my time reading it to be honest.
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I commend this author for trying to write an intimate portrayal of a woman slowly spiraling into the depths of post natal depression. I found the emotional content a bit like a roller coaster ride with the highs and happiness her children brought her and then the deep dark depths of her loneliness. 
Erika moves to Geneva when her husband gets offered a job so she becomes quite isolated from day 1, not knowing the language and her husband working all hours. 

I didn't find the husbands character realistic and found it rather strange that he would leave her for days at a time and be away for nights at a whim. Generally this was a good book but parts of it I found unrealistic. I couldn't understand how Erika got her bruises and neither did I get the ending. All in all I will give this 4 stars mainly because it kept me engaged and I felt empathy for the main character.
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This was a compelling read.  On the surface life for Erika and her children was perfect but alas it wasn't.  Erika's life with two young children her isolation made life very difficult for her and it was no surprise her mental health suffered.  My heart went out to her.
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This novel was original in a way I can't describe.  It shows the spiral of deteriorating mental health quite well. Although I'm not really sure what triggered the deterioration. 

I enjoyed the book to a point. However, although I understand the mind of those with mental illness can be fleeting and disorganised, I felt the book was difficult to understand at times.

I'm not sure how I feel about in all. It was a decent read but I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone.
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Very cleverly written account of a mothers descent into madness. Compulsive reading which immerses the reader into the world of the characters. An uncomfortable subject, but relate-able. Not for everyone but I would recommend.  My thanks to Net Galley, the publisher and the author for allowing me to read an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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A beautifully written, sinister and poetic read about a young woman's slide into post-partum depression and possible madness after following her high-flying husband to Geneva for business. Unfortunately, it was a bit too mannered for me and I was never really sure what the characters were feeling which made the story hard to connect with.
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