BOOK CLUB: Everyday Madness

Everyday Madness is Susan Midalia’s second novel. She is also the author of three short story collections, all of which have been shortlisted for major Australian Literary Awards.

Her most recent work tackles, in a darkly humorous way, the less romantic aspects of marriage. 

Gloria and Bernard have been married for nearly forty years. This was a marriage entered into when Gloria found herself pregnant, and Bernard chose to do the right thing and make an honest woman out of her.

When we meet Gloria and Bernard, their marriage has, to put it nicely, fallen into a bit of a rut. Bernard effectively ignores Gloria, who feels inadequate and uneducated and tries to fill the silence with an endless stream of chatter.  Meanwhile Bernard is worried about his job as a vacuum cleaner salesman, who is not making any sales, and whether management intends to let him go.

Gloria has stopped sleeping, lying awake for hours, and now she’s finding it hard to eat, food seems to get stuck in her throat. When Bernard goes looking for a glass of water during the night he finds Gloria laying, unmoving, on the sofa.

Taking charge, ex-daughter-in-law Meg organises for Gloria to attend the doctor, and leaves her daughter Ella with Bernard for a few hours. It seems like this is the first time that Bernard and Ella have actually taken the opportunity to connect and surprisingly it seems to work out well for both of them.

Meg, who has never been particularly close to her ex-in-laws, is suddenly finding herself in a position where she is having to make decisions for, and support, both Gloria and Bernard, when all she wants to do is be a good mother to Ella.

As we observe Gloria, her treatment, and her progress, the story moves between past and present for both Bernard and Gloria and we learn what has brought them to this point, we watch the relationship unfold between Ella and her mother, Meg.

Reading this book you will find yourself wanting to yell at most of the characters at some point and tell them to wake up to themselves and their behaviours, and then you will stop and think, while Midalia may have exaggerated these behaviours for the sake of the story, haven’t we all observed these very behaviours within our families, our friends, ourselves?

A highly entertaining and thought-provoking book about relationships and the ties that bind, written with a dose of humour and more than a sprinkling of reality.  And if you want to know why the cover has pink flamingoes flying across it, well you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

Many thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Fremantle Press for the opportunity to read and review Everyday Madness by Susan Midalia.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Everyday Madness by Susan Midalia. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

ISBN: 9781760990091

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