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Summary

Long-listed for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2018

The extraordinary first novel from the author of the prize-winning An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to One Who Saw It.

It seemed, at times, an act of profound selfishness to have a child so that I might become a parent; but selfish, too, to have a child and stay the same, or not to have one - unless the only honest choice would have been to try to become this kinder version of myself without the need to bring another into it....

In Sight a woman recounts her progress to motherhood while remembering the death of her own mother and the childhood summers she spent with her psychoanalyst grandmother. Woven among these personal recollections are significant events in medical history: Wilhelm Rontgen's discovery of the X-ray and his production of an image of his wife's hand; Sigmund Freud's development of psychoanalysis and the work that he did with his daughter, Anna; John Hunter's attempts to set surgery on a scientific footing and his work, as a collaborator with his brother William and the artist Jan van Rymsdyk, on the anatomy of pregnant bodies. What emerges is the realisation that while the search for understanding might not lead us to an absolute truth, it is an end in itself.

Wonderfully intelligent, brilliantly written, and deeply moving, Sight is a novel about how we see others and how we might know ourselves.

©2018 Jessie Greengrass (P)2018 Hodder & Stoughton Limited

Critic reviews

"A stunning debut." (Guardian)

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Disappointing.

I had high hopes of this prize- nominated novel and tried twice to get to the end of it. I did eventually get there but not without many lapses of concentration.
The main problem for me was that the various elements of the novel just did not hang together. I haven't a clue what it was all meant to be about. The sections on the history of science (cinema and light, X-rays, psychotherapy, surgery) were all fascinating; but they were interspersed with examinations of the protagonist's childhood and her mind-blowingly dull, navel-gazing decision on whether to become a mother. There was no obvious or believable link between these elements and I found it very frustrating and deeply disappointing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Slow and dull

The writing might be more poetic in print, but as an audio book it is slow and boring. It seemed her disjointed with nothing tying different elements together.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Extreme naval-gazing

I wager the niche audience of 'people who love this' stretch across Pregnant, to On Maternity Leave (with their first child). Any person outwith that self-oriented window may struggle to empathise.
Goodness me, this felt like work. The historical vignettes bring welcome relief between mind-numbing bouts of introspection. I felt the protagonist to be a societal non-contributer rather at odds with the less well known medical practitioners (and workaholics) she shines a light on. The historical research is well done - slightly too matter-of-fact but 100 times more fascinating than the plodding on of the book's main character. The narration is too laboured and over-eggs it.The language is complex but unnecessarily so, given the topics under discussion. (There was a couple of sentences about fungus on a tree that made me lol it was so pseudo.) I think it would have been hard for any narrator to ace this one.