The Dark Circle
By Linda Grant
The new novel by the acclaimed author of Upstairs at the Party and the Booker-shortlisted The Clothes on Their Backs.Tweet
A fascinating story on a subject I knew little about. Such a scary thought that this was so recent.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Loved the feisty Jewish twins diagnosed with TB. This is 1949 and the new NHS sees them arriving at a former Sanitorium for the wealthy (the poor died). The book reveals the appalling hardships and peculiar cures and practices that went on at the hospital, where until the advent of the NHS Doctor's could and did do what they liked. The Sanitarium is home to an eclectic host of characters. This would make a brilliant Reading Group book as there is so much to discuss. Fantastic story and thought provoking. Quirky and different in places, their continental holiday post Sanitorium is a scream. Then you have the children's ward. Definitely a contender for the prize.
Working in health policy and public affairs, I'm always fascinated to read both fictional and factual accounts of the management and treatment of public health issues from days gone by, in this case how TB affected people differently. The story takes place in the early days of the NHS, and it was also interesting to observe the key players reaction to its creation and the services it provided.
A diverse cast is brought together by their shared illness - the central characters being twins Lenny and Miriam. I could see it playing out in my head as a TV series or film - our book club likes to do fantasy casting of adaptations - so it'll be interesting to see who they suggest!