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The Good Patient


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About the Author

KRISTIN WATERFIELD DUISBERG is a graduate of Bowdoin College and the Creative Writing program at Boston University. The Good Patient is her first book.


Buried memories drive a young woman to self-mutilation and near madness in this penetrating psychological study by first-time novelist Duisberg. Darien Gilbertson is a 28-year-old Manhattan advertising executive known for her biting sarcasm, morbid humor and party-girl tendencies. But beneath the sleek facade, she hides the scars, bumps and bruises of her secret life-she enjoys violently hurting herself. Her husband, Robert, knows of her penchant for pain, but Darien can't seem to stop and refuses to get help. Then she goes too far and breaks her hand. "It was the hand that came between the marble floor and the rest of my body that sent a delicious knife of pain through my arm and to the top of my skull, full of bittersweet promise." Robert forces her to see a psychiatrist, and despite herself, Darien begins to trust cool Dr. Rachel Lindholm. As their sessions progress, fragments of Darien's fractured past slowly emerge; frightened, she regresses. But Dr. Lindholm refuses to give up and eventually Darien has a breakthrough so powerful that she hurts herself again and must be heavily medicated. It is in a drug-induced haze that she faces the horrific childhood memories that have been blocked from her consciousness for years. As she begins to recover, she must make the difficult choice of reliving her past or moving on to an uncertain future. Though a more detailed account of Darien's traumatic childhood might've better grounded the novel, Duisberg brilliantly exposes the many layers of Darien's consciousness and paints a nuanced picture of her marriage, in which love and resentment are tortuously mingled. Agent, Mary Evans. (Feb. 10) Forecast: The identity struggle at the heart of The Good Patient will remind some readers of Jennifer Egan's Look at Me, but the novel will also satisfy readers of more conventional abuse dramas. Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

"An intense and moving debut about a young woman's nervous breakdown and slow recovery... Mercifully light on the psychobabble: a sharp and unsentimental glimpse of emotional collapse and recovery, narrated with compassion and a welcome sense of humor." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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