On a technical note, I have to say that this book is not as well-written as I expected. The quoted passages that I previously read in various articles, were kind of the best ones. That standard is not always maintained. There are moments of poetic beauty, but then the next line is just a contrived mess. I don't see myself as suffering from a reading comprehension problem, but here and there I really had no idea what Emma Forrest meant.
But here's my single biggest criticism - marketing and selling this book as a story about a woman coping with the loss of her psychiatrist (Dr R), is DISHONEST. More bluntly put - it's a LIE!
Not even in a literal sense does this book focus on Dr R. It's 214 pages long, and after one or two references to Gypsy Husband (Colin Farrell, as we all know) early on, it's ALL about him from page 112 onwards. But more importantly, from an emotional viewpoint, her loss of Gypsy Husband (GH) is clearly the real story here, and it's the shrink's story that's the secondary issue.
Actually, the depiction of Dr R's meaning in her life already suffers early on. Forrest never quite manages to explain how he really affected her in a positive way. He's an anchor, obviously (which GH also later becomes, mind you), but as for the actual contribution to her well-being? She fails to articulate that, I'm afraid. Of course she mentions that he said this and that and made this and that observation, but nothing really seems to carry that much weight. I have a feeling she knew she was selling him short, because she inserts quotes from Dr R's other patients every few pages. As if it was needed to do him justice, because she couldn't do so with her OWN story.
The opposite is true of her account of her relationship with GH. Emotional and intimate, it's by far the more powerful part of the book. The part that stays with one. When Dr R dies, a few months into her relationship with GH, the focus is not on this loss, but on GH's role in her "dealing" with it. It's actually skimmed over pretty quickly, and resurrected only when GH leaves her. Double loss - the first then compounded by the second.
In dealing with this double loss, again, the loss of Dr R seems secondary. Even when she looks up an old colleague of his, it's the loss of GH that overshadows that of Dr R. The loss of GH is the one that gives this book its emotional impact (which it does have), and I would battle to take anyone seriously who claims otherwise. Of course I sympathise with the extreme pain of this loss, because, like most people, I've certainly experienced it. I even understand the need to put this pain into words to somehow deal with it. But then don't "sell" the book as something else.
I'm not gonna guess at what is true or not in this book, but I have to admit that on occasion I did marvel at her memory. That's exactly what the person said? Really? And everyone speaks so poetically? Okay. And then there's the little matter of interpretation, of course, but never mind.
Lastly, at times I wondered whether she was channeling one of Farrell's movie characters or drawing from one of his movies. Langard Road? That's the song in In Bruges, isn't it? And isn't that what John Smith more or less said in The New World? And didn't Bobby Morrow do that in A Home at the End of the World? I honestly couldn't get away from this feeling I had that maybe, somewhere, the lines between reality and fantasy got a little blurred. When someone is that emotionally damaged, is that an unreasonable suspicion?
And now a movie of this kiss-and-tell is in the pipeline, of course. Hmmm...