Review: In Two Minds by Gordon Parker

In Two Minds is a detailed and sympathetic account of one man's journey through mental illness, written by renowned psychiatrist Gordon Parker. Martin Homer, known as Sunny to his friends, has a naturally cheerful disposition, despite suffering two great losses during his childhood. He has a good life. Martin is a medical practitioner working and living in Sydney's north shore. His marriage to Sarah is a happy one, though they are childless after a number of failed IVF attempts. However, the death of Martin's mother sends him into a deep depression, which then turns into a period of mania. During this period, Martin encounters Bella, a hurt woman with some pretty serious issues of her own. What happens next has far reaching consequences for them both ...

Although this novel was a little slow in places, there is no doubt that it was written by someone who was an expert in treating mental illness. The author creates a sympathetic picture of Martin, even in the passages when his mania caused him to behave quite badly. Bella was a far more difficult character to digest--she is portrayed as someone who is manipulative and behaves without conscience, yet it is also clear that she has been damaged by her past and has a desperate need to be loved by someone. The description "borderline" is thrown around quite a bit, and other bits and pieces in the narrative point toward Borderline Personality Disorder. I did find parts of the novel quite sexist (the chapter featuring the Trophettes, a support/empowerment group for trophy wives, for example.) That said, the novel is commendable for it's portrayal of Martin. He's 100% human, with a real sense of right and wrong, who behaves the way he does because he is ill, and not because he had any intention to hurt Bella or his wife.

A compelling read for anyone interested in reading about the human side of mental illness. Recommended. 

Thank you to Ventura Press for my review copy. 

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2017


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