Sunbathing in the Rain

Gwyneth Lewis

‘Depression is internal snow. Black snow. The flakes whirl around like motes in the water around your personal shipwreck. The quicker you dive down to see your sorry state, the better for you in life. For above you, if only you can reach it without getting the bends, are sunshine, laughter on a yacht, the clink of plates as a lunch of steaming fish is handed round.’ Whilst the overall structure of ‘Sunbathing in the Rain’ moves from dark to light, telling the story of Lewis’s recovery, its different strands allow a variety of tones and subjects to be explored, from the profound to the frivolous. Alongside a paragraph about the proper relationship between the ego, the mind and the emotions nestles a passage on the therapeutic value of nail varnish. Practical hints on how to get better (diet, read Hello!, helpful pieces of music) are alongside striking quotations, ranging from sentences on crisp packets, to prayers, from Russian orthodox writings on silence to collections of slang. Part memoir – drawing on her own experiences, both adverse and encouraging, as a depressive and an alcoholic – and part guide or companion, this book brings Burton’s ‘Anatomy of Melancholy’ into the twenty-first century. For it will have two voices, one calling from the valley of despair, the other from a safer, calmer new place. The suffering depressive needs help from outside his or her own consciousness, a radical new perspective that makes life possible again. This unique book offers it.

Reviews of Sunbathing in the Rain

  • ‘Brave, affecting and uplifting.’ The Times

    ‘While many books about depression bring one down with their tales of dark mood states, and others bring one down with artificial and unconvincing messages of hope, Gwyneth Lewis’s “Sunbathing in the Rain” is both witty and wise: a profound musing on the problem of depression that is deeply informed yet full of hope and cheer.’ Andrew Solomon, author of the award-winning ‘The Noonday Demon’

    ‘“Sunbathing in the Rain” is undoubtedly the best book I have ever read about one person’s experience of depression.’ Dorothy Rowe, author of ‘Breaking the Bonds’

    ‘I started reading the book on a rainy afternoon and read it right through without stopping to late evening. I was seized by its rhythm of discovery, its humour, courage and sharp-eyed insight. Gwyneth truly draws on literature, bringing to bear writers from everywhere and every time as part of present experience. She gives you confidence in poetry. And she is wonderfully down-to-earth in her advice.’ Dame Professor Gillian Beer, President of Clare Hall, Cambridge University

    ‘Genuinely life-changing…It should be available free on the NHS.’ The Guardian