After 'Miss Garnet's Angel', 'Mr Golightly's Holiday' and 'Instances of the Number 3', British author Salley Vickers needs little introduction. Her previous books were well received by both critics and the reading public and Vickers' latest book does not stray far from her usual preoccupations. Philosophical themes and the power of art feature strongly in 'The Other Side of You' as Vickers intertwines debates about morality and religion, death and reality into an absorbing story of two damaged people.

Hospital psychiatrist David McBride is at the centre of the story. He, perhaps because of witnessing his brother's death as a young child, specializes in working with patients who have attempted suicide. One such patient is Elizabeth Cruikshank, a quiet, damaged woman who he can't reach. It is only when David steps beyond the boundaries of normal therapy and starts talking about Caravaggio's 'Supper at Emmaus' that he touches a chord in Elizabeth and so is able to help her - and himself.

Narrated retrospectively, 'The Other Side of You' is a calm book. While not a whole lot happens in physical terms, mental burdens are dramatically destroyed and Vickers is very good at pinpointing the small shifts that prefigure these moves. It is unfortunate, however, that the cover image is not one of the Caravaggio paintings so vividly described in the text. Immediately engaging, 'The Other Side of You' is a book to be slowly savoured.

Caroline Hennessy

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