This is an extraordinary novel. It is extraordinary because the author writes from the perspective of a woman. Writing in the first person as a woman, might not sound that unusual, however Kennedy expresses her most inner feeling and insanities as a woman experiencing Post Natal Depression. You might say that a `man' would not have the slightest clue about such things, but after reading the novel and giving it to family and friends (women) who have experienced post natal depression or even the less serious, post natal blues, after reading the text, have come back to me startled and amazed at how accurate and spot on the mark the author was in terms of his unusual depth of understanding.
A thirty something journalist, Sally Goodchild, meets a handsome Englishman in Cairo while on assignment. Tony Hobbs is a foreign correspondent for a major London newspaper and as one thing leads to another, Sally ends up pregnant and Tony offers to marry her though insists she must come back to England. This all sounds rather mundane, but as the narrative unfolds, we find that all is not as it seems in their relationship.
Sally experiences all the cultural differences as an American living in London. She experiences `cultural shock' to a minor degree, but while reading her observations and feelings, and having lived in different countries as well, could relate, however her husband Tony, strangely, never offered any support, leaving the poor (pregnant) woman to her own devices.
Sally finally has the baby and it is not a smooth delivery. She comes out of the experience a total wreck, emotionally and less so, physically. She finds the hospital staff without empathy and in some cases, sadistic. Sally has no support from family as she is all alone. Tony becomes a phantom, occasionally coming home and ignoring the baby. Sally attempts to describe her dilemma, her feelings, but her husband merely scoffs and arrogantly disapproves, giving her the impression that she's being a child and should "grow up!"
Needless to say, Sally comes close to ending it all, hitting rock bottom.
Douglas Kennedy is a master at taking a character to the heights to then drag them down further than the reader would think possible: The Big Picture and his first novel, The Job, are good examples.
We feel Sally's desperation, her insanities, her frustration as a new mother and her various reactions to her situation. Does this poor woman bounce back?
This is an excellent novel, the author doing his job, immersing us into the character, feeling her emotions and her desperation and finally, her choice to climb out of a terrible, hopeless situation...and she does it with flair and style.
A Special Relationship is entertaining and informative, revealing what good writing is all about...A firm 5 Stars.