The Silver Linings Playbook
by Matthew Quick
Stories about people with mental health problems abound at the moment. Perhaps their popularity is in part to do with the vicarious thrill of being in the company of someone who is dangerously (either to themselves or to others) unpredictable. Certainly this is the case with Pat Peoples, narrator of THE SILVER LININGS PLAYLIST, who has recently been discharged from a psychiatric unit into the care of his parents.
From page one, an elastic thread of trepidation is stretched and pulled so taut that we are waiting for it to snap back at any minute. Pat allows us to see glimpses of his violent and unpredictable alter-ego that can be unleashed by the wrong words or a few notes on a saxophone. He is delusional and obsessive, yet we know that he is doing his best to reform and, increasingly, we want him to succeed. It is this tension that makes this debut novel so compelling.
As a novel, it is not perfect: the plot is contrived and rather predictable and it sometimes feels like writing-by-numbers. But as a love story it is touching, unusual and heart-warming. The film of the book, directed by David O Russell and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert de Niro (in one of his psycho-dad roles), has just been released and I for one am in the mood for a good rom com to lift the winter blues.
Published by Picador, 292pp.