The Morbids by Ewa Ramsey
About a month or so ago, our head book buyer Alison Huber flagged this book with me, saying that it was something I might like. Oh yeah, I thought at the time, this sounds interesting, I’ll give it a go. You see, Alison has this uncanny knack of pairing books to people. She’s some sort of book-matchmaking wizard.
Lockdown has done strange things to my brain, and I was expecting a different sort of book. Anyway, this novel is about Caitlin: about her daily struggles as a waitress at a swanky wine bar, about how she walks everywhere, and, importantly, why she walks everywhere, and why she can’t get a full night’s sleep. Metaphorically, she is running, but barely hanging on, hiding behind a façade of statements I’m fine, really, or I’m just tired. Every Tuesday she meets with her support group, the titular Morbids, where she listens to the irrational death-fears of her fellows. Shame follows Caitlin as she struggles with her increasing sense of guilt over her very existence following a fatal car accident. The imminent marriage of her best friend, Lina, or prospects of a new relationship with Dr Tom, are not enough to shake her out of this negative spiral, which eventually forces her to confront this trauma, and another from the past, head on.
While The Morbids is about all of the above, it is also about friendship – the longstanding, non-judgemental variety, and how much of a solid foundation that can represent, especially during crisis. Ewa Ramsey’s book is more of a heartwarming and affirming novel than I was expecting. It’s not twee, though: there is great empathy in the portrayal of the characters, and Caitlin’s situation. She could easily be someone you or I know. Another reviewer said it was ‘quietly devastating’. I have to agree. This is a strong debut from an emerging talent.