If you buy the book through Waterstones or Amazon, do please leave a review. I also have a page at Goodreads (pop the button on the page) where you can review and add a question for me, if you would like. Praise is wonderful – of course, it is – but so is constructive criticism. I also like to tangle with others’ arguments and views, so please ask me questions or comment on things you thought didn’t work. The book is candid in its exploration of what it means to be well; to have mental health problems; to hurt and wish to annihilate yourself. Also, its humour is dark. Oh yes, dark. It will offend some people. But if reviewers comment that the events don’t seem plausible, I’ll have to state that the foreword tells you it’s fiction “drawing on many episodes in (her) own life…” The things I could tell you of caravans, spotted dick, tripe, people buried with their dog, evil relatives….
“I thought it was a splendid read. And it made me laugh. I enjoyed her literary references too – all my favourites; I used The Wind in the Willows as comfort reading too. I genuinely liked this book (or I wouldn’t have read it so quickly!) – very likeable narrator, many familiar references that chimed – and funny – which is difficult to pull off, especially whilst dealing with such a knotty subject. Congrats to Anna!”
‘Killing Hapless Ally’ is an intriguing and powerful novel which explores one woman’s quest for freedom from the overpowering clutches of depression and dislocation. With dark humour, sprightly wit and insight the author follows Alison’s twisting and often frightening path towards positive mental wellbeing and a release from fear and self-loathing. The book is both touching and savage and is imbued with exquisite description throughout. I think this story will appeal to many people; it is definitely a ‘page turner’ and one which will make you laugh (a lot) and cry. I greatly enjoyed reading it and will definitely be recommending it to my friends….
This is from chapter two of Killing Hapless Annie; a section I am editing at the moment. It concerns how reading can ease unhappiness and loneliness: it’s a cornerstone, I think, for many: I know it was for me. x
Annie had overheard mutterings in the kitchen; she heard phrases such as personality disorder, manic depressive and psychosis. She heard the voice of Uncle John, saying of his keening wife,
‘…And mother, I did think when I married her she might have been a sociopath, but she was cheerful enough then.’
Annie thought, ‘What’s a sociopath? It sounds cheerful anyway. Kind of chatty.’
So a curious but normal Christmas break and Annie went back to school with the customary sense of being just a bit separate. To get away from mad women (who lived in depressing slapdash-mortared bungalows, which after all weren’t interesting in a pointy, Gothic sort of way and where there was no hint of left-behind Caribbean heat on the top floor), she furiously and hungrily read and re-read that bit in The Wind in the Willows -it’s at the end of ‘Dulce Domum’ if you care to look – where Rat manages to make a cheering little feast for Mole and the field mice who have come to sing carols at Mole End. For added reassurance, she read ‘The Wild Wood’ , with particular emphasis on the moment when Badger opens his front door and the two animals tumble in out of the snow. There are hams hanging from the ceiling, a big fire, the plates wink in a kindly, anthropomorphic way and when the famished animals are fed and ready for bed, their sheets are coarse but clean and smell of lavender. To Annie, a hybrid of the two chapters connoted Christmas; the word cosy; a wafting amorphous thing which some might have called happiness. And best of all, no baby-in-the-bucket. Here, Hapless Annie could stay away because her host didn’t need improvement and could just slough her off and relax. It’s ok, baby girl. It’s ok. Because in The Wind in the Willows, the creatures veritably fall upon one another in a riot of being pleased to see you, which felt like an unfamiliar construct beyond the books. Well, with the exception of how Hazel made her feel, but Hazel was gone, with the wedding ring – and possibly the dog – to a grave in December Gateshead, leaving a shelf of books in French to Annie. Oh la la! Annie thumbed the books and missed her so much in a world that made fuck-all sense.