As a writer myself, I know the sacrifices authors make to bring their work to others. There are the untold thousands of hours creating, planning, and perfecting their stories. There are the many hours and dollars spent to format, cover, and promote. Without listing all the expenses, there also are, of course, the lost potential revenues that might otherwise have helped the author recoup some of his expenses. These come when the author gives away copies, with the hope that readers will enjoy and will leave meaningful and thoughtful reviews that will encourage others to purchase copies. And so it is with these things in mind, that I leave this review in exchange for the free downloaded copy I received of Michelle Muckley's Phychophilia. Let me begin by saying that if you did not manage to get a free copy yourself, you might consider downloading one at whatever cost--today--because this one is absolutely worth it, particularly if you appreciate, as do I, a colorful "voice" to what you read.
Charlotte Astor is suffering. Depressed, and with an attempted suicide behind her, she tries to find peace in her troubled relationship with her husband, Gregory, who shows far too much interest in the Astor's housemaid, Ishiko. Then there is her doctor she must deal with, her pretentious neighbors, her former coworkers (whom she left behind at Gregory's urging), and Charlotte is lonely even when in the company of others.
My attraction to Psychophilia wasn't the story so much (though it is not lacking). It was due to Muckley's voice and her ability to so completely and believably "get into" Charlotte's troubled mind. I found myself highlighting line after line, just so I could find a passage later and thereby revisit a clever turn of phrase. Just a couple short and ready examples (of what must be hundreds) include:
"If we were a house, Gregory and me would never have made it past the planning stage."
"Occasionally I have felt the vomit rise in my throat but if I swallow down fast enough I can return it to a peaceful slumber, like a trained dragon, full of hot breath but no fire."
"It’s much harder to judge a crazy person when they know you too have been touched by the same affliction."
Consider this one: "Cigarettes are not for show. They are to be hidden away, like he wishes he could do to me, but instead is forced to do to Ishiko."
Or this one: "Dana’s compliments make you feel good, even if they are not always believable. Jemima’s always remind you of your flaws. To her I can’t look just nice. I have to look well, so that I remember at one point I didn’t. I don’t like her at all. She thinks of me as common, and I think of her as a bitch."
This one made me want to laugh and cry at the same time: "I look like a moving version of a [f . . . d] up Picasso, my features out of line and two dimensional."
Finally, I note the insightfulness here: "But by wanting out, trying to die, it was too much for him. It meant he was a failure. If I wanted to die, it meant he couldn’t be my everything. There was a better, more attractive alternative in death, than him. He can’t get past that idea, so he has found his own alternative. He didn’t even have to leave his home. But perhaps I shouldn’t be so hard on him. Coming second place to the finality of death? Perhaps there isn’t a man in the world that could understand or accept that."
There is an rough, yet elegant quality to Muckley's voice, a veracity to Charlotte's thoughts that give the story an almost "autobiographical" feel, and an honesty about life, relationships and feelings that is raw and real. A work absolutely and positively deserving of five stars . . . (so you might go get your copy now . . .)