Book review: The Morbids by Ewa Ramsey

Thursday, September 3, 2020 Permalink

When I first saw The Morbids by Ewa Ramsey I assumed the title reflected something fairly obscure in the way literary fiction sometimes does. It didn’t occur to me it was actually named after people with morbid thoughts. I’m intrigued now, wondering if fatalistic people, or those who assume death is around the corner…. are officially called / nicknamed morbids.

I must admit I love the word morbid and use it far more than I should. I’m not hugely paranoid about death but I certainly used to get on planes or helicopters in obscure dodgy locales (in my previous life in international development) nervously flashforwarding to the ‘Lifetime movie of the week’ about our demise.

Anyway, I digress as I am prone to do. What’s important is whether I liked this book. And yes… I loved it. Really bloody loved it. It’s easily a contender for my favourite book this year.

Book review: The Morbids by Ewa RamseyThe Morbids
by Ewa Ramsey
Published by Allen & Unwin
on 01/09/2020
Source: Allen & Unwin
Genres: General Fiction, Literary Fiction
ISBN: 9781760877538
Pages: 368

Caitlin is convinced she's going to die.

Two years ago she was a normal twenty-something with a blossoming career and a plan to go travelling with her best friend, until a car accident left her with a deep, unshakable understanding that she's only alive by mistake.

Caitlin deals with these thoughts by throwing herself into work, self-medicating with alcohol, and attending a support group for people with death-related anxiety, informally known as the Morbids.

But when her best friend announces she's getting married in Bali, and she meets a handsome doctor named Tom, Caitlin must overcome her fear of death and learn to start living again.

I’ve mentioned before one of my favourite novels is Addition by another Aussie author Toni Jordan and The Morbids reminded me of that. (Not to mention the TV show Fleabag.)

It’s beautifully written, with humour to soften any darkness or well…. morbidness. It deals with the subject of mental illness sympathetically, but again with wit – reminding us people can be both fragile and resilient at the same time.

I became enchanted the moment I started this book so barely wrote any notes. I wasn’t planning to read the whole thing but dinner went on hold and I had to finish it in a sitting.

I adored Caitlin. Ramsey very cleverly ekes out the backstory of the accident that’s impacted her life. When she meet her she’s since distanced herself from her best friend though and it takes time to learn why. It’s related to the accident of course, but we realise there’s more to it than that. Ramsey offers a sense of intrigue rather than trepidation, as we’re keen to understand what’s led to Caitlin’s anxiety.

As I’m wont to do, I overanalysed this a little though ultimately recognised it’s a strong reminder that we can never know how much something can impact (or completely screw up) someone else’s life.

When we meet Caitlin she’s biding her time, sure she’s not going to be around for long. As per the blurb though, her world’s thrown into chaos when her old bestie Lina tries to pull her back into her orbit and she’s drawn to a customer Tom… who seems immune to Caitlin’s usual skills of deflection.

I talk about hating ‘romance’ but loved the burgeoning romance Ramsey offers us here. It felt real and it is obviously complicated.

I adored this book. Ramsey deals with the less-fathomable elements of mental health with humour and without mocking or being patronising. She writes beautifully but it’s the ease of the storytelling that drew me in. In reality ‘little’ happens. We’re drawn in by the complexities of the characters at a pivotal point in time.

Caitlin’s anxiety and panic felt very real. This book is about her. It’s her story. We can see the boundaries she’s set are being challenged, pushed beyond her limits and we don’t know what will happen next.

I haven’t even mentioned the strength of the support cast (Lina, Tom, Caitlin’s boss Nic and her family) but I became invested in Caitlin’s life and engulfed, more than enchanted, in her life. This is an amazing book by Ramsey and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

The Morbids by Ewa Ramsey was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and is now available.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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