"Something is afoot within me that I do not understand, the breaking of a contract that I thought could not be broken, a slow perverting of my substance."
Anna was living a normal life. She was ambitious and worked hard; she had just bought an apartment; she was falling in love. But then she started to develop worrying symptoms: Her face felt like it was burning whenever she was in front of the computer. Soon this progressed to an intolerance of fluorescent light then of sunlight itself. The reaction soon spread to her entire body. Now, when her symptoms are at their worst, she must spend months on end in a blacked-out room, losing herself in audiobooks and elaborate word games in an attempt to ward off despair. During periods of relative remission, she can venture cautiously out at dawn and dusk, into a world that, from the perspective of her normally cloistered existence, is filled with remarkable beauty.
And throughout there is her relationship with Pete. In many ways he is Anna's savior, offering her shelter from the light in his home. But she cannot enjoy a normal life with him, cannot go out in the day, and even making love is uniquely awkward. Anna asks herself, "By continuing to occupy this lovely man while giving him neither children nor a public companion nor a welcoming home - do I do wrong?"
With gorgeous, lyrical prose, Anna brings us into the dark with her, a place from which we emerge to see love and the world anew.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By DubaiReader on 20-11-16
Living in the Dark
This is the memoir of a young woman who became so allergic to light that she was forced to live large parts of her life in a darkened room, emerging at dusk to go for a walk or attempt any sort of normality. What started out as a sensitivity to the light emitted by her computer screen, gradually developed into a severe reaction to all forms of light, apparently with no cure. At one point I felt that the treatment she received had actually aggravated her condition, though she didn't say exactly that. When in the light her skin would burn with such severe pain that could take days to subside.
Throughout these trials she was supported by her boyfriend, Pete, who stuck by her and eventually married her, even after the first marriage ceremony had had to be cancelled due to the worsening of her condition. He was really a genuine, sympathetic guy who gave her a reason to go on.
During the bad periods she was dependent on audio-books, which was kind of appropriate as I was listening to this on Audible myself. I totally related to her observation that "When I finish a book, I find I cannot start another one immediately. Each book needs time to settle in my mind, to be digested like a meal of many courses. It seems disrespectful to the characters to move on too quickly — after all, I have spent hours in their company, learnt their histories, looked on at significant moments of their lives."
One thing I didn't enjoy about this memoir was the involved description of word games, which I couldn't gloss over as it was being narrated, but otherwise Anna's condition and her battle to deal with it, did hold my attention; I can't imagine how awful it would be to have to live your whole life in the dark and I hope she eventually manages to find a cure.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Jeremy on 12-05-16
Firstly, this is beautifully written and sensitively read. The short chapters fit the autobiographical material well. Games to play in the dark reveal the author's literary expertise and add real practical interest. She writes movingly about her condition without sentimentality or self pity yet the reader has a deep sympathy with her and rejoices in the little victories. I have learnt so much from hearing this book for which I am grateful. Highly recommended.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful