Paperback by Granta, priced £12.99 (ebook £8.54)
Sarah Moss’ latest novel picks up where her successful Bodies Of Light breaks off. Set in the 1880s, newly married Ally is about to begin a six-month period of separation from her husband, Tom. While he builds lighthouses in Tokyo, she will take up work at the Truro Asylum.
Alternating chapters between Tom and Ally’s new experiences, Moss guides us through their individual professional trials, while the basis of their marriage starts to unravel. Both characters experience deep loneliness; Tom thrown into a culture of which he knows nothing about, while Ally constantly dwells on her sister’s death.
At the same time, she strives to prove sceptical nurses wrong, who cannot comprehend the idea of trusting a female doctor. Moss expertly illustrates the disappearance of identity in this touching novel, however I couldn’t help but feel more drawn into Ally’s story.
Tom’s narrative seemed more of a distraction from his wife’s inner turmoil as she struggles to deal with personal grief and professional pressures as an independent woman in Victorian England.