Sorrow and Bliss: A Novel (Paperback)
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction!
"Brilliantly faceted and extremely funny. . . . While I was reading it, I was making a list of all the people I wanted to send it to, until I realized that I wanted to send it to everyone I know." — Ann Patchett
The internationally bestselling, compulsively readable novel—spiky, sharp, intriguingly dark, and tender—that combines the psychological insight of Sally Rooney with the sharp humor of Nina Stibbe and the emotional resonance of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.
Martha Friel just turned forty. She used to work at Vogue and was going to write a novel. Now, she creates internet content for no one. She used to live in Paris. Now, she lives in a gated community in Oxford that she hates and can’t bear to leave. But she must now that her loving husband Patrick has just left.
Because there’s something wrong with Martha. There has been since a little bomb went off in her brain, at seventeen, leaving her changed in a way no doctor or drug could fix then and no one, even now, can explain—why can say she is so often sad, cruel to everyone she loves, why she finds it harder to be alive than other people.
With Patrick gone, the only place Martha has left to go is her childhood home, to live with her chaotic parents, to survive without Ingrid, the sister who made their growing-up bearable, who said she would never give up on Martha, and who finally has.
It feels like the end but maybe, by going back, Martha will get to start again. Maybe there is a different story to be written, if Martha can work out where to begin.
About the Author
Meg Mason is a journalist whose career began at the Financial Times and the Times of London. Her work has since appeared in Vogue, Elle, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Sunday Times (UK), and the New Yorker’s Daily Shouts. Born in New Zealand, she now lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and two daughters.
"Sorrow and Bliss is a brilliantly faceted and extremely funny book about depression that engulfed me in the way I'm always hoping to be engulfed by novels. While I was reading it, I was making a list of all the people I wanted to send it to, until I realized that I wanted to send it to everyone I know." — Ann Patchett
"Completely brilliant, I loved it. I think every girl and woman should read it." — Gillian Anderson
"An incredibly funny and devastating debut. . . . enlivened, often, by a madcap energy. Yet it still manages to be sensitive and heartfelt, and to offer a nuanced portrayal of what it means to try to make amends and change, even when that involves 'start[ing] again from nothing.'” — The Guardian
“Mason excels in her heartbreaking U.S. debut, an account of a woman’s self-discovery amid her struggle with mental illness. . . . Witty and stark, Martha’s emotionally affecting story will delight fans of Sally Rooney.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Exploring the multifaceted hardships of mental illness and the frustrating inaccuracy of diagnoses, medications, and treatments, Sorrow and Bliss is darkly comic and deeply heartfelt . . . Martha’s voice is acerbic, witty, and raw." — Booklist (starred review)
"Meg Mason's unflagging comic impulses drive this novel about the havoc a woman's mental illness wreaks on her marriage." — Shelf Awareness (starred review)
"Brutal, tender, funny, this novel—a portrait of love in all of its many incarnations—came alive for me from the very first page. I saw myself here. I saw the people I love. I am changed by this book." — Mary Beth Keane, New York Times bestselling author of Ask Again, Yes
“A truly comic novel about love and the despair of depression. It’s a rare and beautiful thing when an author can break your heart with humor; it’s also the quality I admire most in a writer.” — Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, New York Times bestselling author of The Nest and Good Company
“A quiet and achingly beautiful love story. . . . LOVED it. Masterfully written. And powerful.” — Elin Hilderbrand
“Sorrow and Bliss is hilarious, haunting, and utterly captivating. Meg Mason has created a heroine as prickly as Bernadette in Where’d You Go, Bernadette. Her humor is as arch and wise as the best work of Joan Didion and Rachel Cusk, yet completely original. What a thrilling new voice!” — Amanda Eyre Ward, New York Times bestselling author of The Jetsetters
“Funny and tragic.” — Jojo Moyes
"I really loved Meg Mason’s SORROW AND BLISS, which is sometimes very sad and often very funny and ultimately hopeful." — Linda Holmes, New York Times bestselling author of Evvie Drake Starts Over, via Twitter
"So dark, so funny, so true. You will see your sad, struggling, triumphant self in this deeply affecting novel. What a debut." — Laura Zigman, author of Separation Anxiety
“A gorgeous, heart-rending book.” — Flynn Berry, New York Times bestselling author of Northern Spy
“SORROW AND BLISS is brilliant. A comic gem that will also break your heart.” — Julia Claiborne Johnson, author of Be Frank With Me and Better Luck Next Time
"Evocative and hopeful." — Book Riot, "5 Contemporary Literary Fiction Books That Are Game-Changers"
"Sorrow and Bliss is a thing of beauty. Astute observations on marriage, motherhood, family, and mental illness are threaded through a story that is by turns devastating and restorative. Every sentence rings true. I will be telling everyone I love to read this book." — Sara Collins, Costa First Novel Award-winning author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton
"Sharp yet humane, and jaw-droppingly funny, this is the kind of novel you will want to press into the hands of everyone you know. Mason has an extraordinary talent for dialogue and character, and her understanding of how much poignancy a reader can take is profound. A masterclass on family, damage and the bonds of love: as soon as I finished it, I started again." — Jessie Burton, New York Times bestselling author of The Miniaturist
"Patrick Melrose meets Fleabag. Brilliant." — Clare Chambers, author of Small Pleasures
“Examines with pitiless clarity the impact of the narrator's mental illness on her closest relationships. . . . Mason brings the reader into a deep understanding of Martha's experience without either condescending to her or letting her off too easily. . . . An astute depiction of life on the psychic edge.” — Kirkus Reviews
“The book is a triumph. A brutal, hilarious, compassionate triumph.” — Alison Bell, cocreator and star of The Letdown
"This is a romance, true, but a real one. It’s modern love up against the confusing, sad aches of mental illness, with all its highs, lows, humour and misery. Comparisons to Sally Rooney will be made, but Mason’s writing is less self-conscious than Rooney’s, and perhaps more mature. Her character work is outstanding, and poignant—the hairline fractures, contradictions and nuances of the middle-class family dynamic are painstakingly rendered with moving familiarity and black humour, resulting in a combination as devastating and sharply witty as Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag." — Bookseller+Publisher
“Improbably charming . . . will have you chortling and reading lines aloud.” — People