"Mad Hannah Rafferty", by Tony Sullivan


This is moving story of a young woman, a child of the late 50’s, searching for the love she lost after her father’s death. Her life slowly unravels till one day she is forcibly detained in a psychiatric institute where she writes hidden in a bathroom cubicle her memoirs on toilet paper and begins to piece her life together. 

“Mad Hannah Rafferty” is a disturbing conundrum of mental problems. Through Hannah’s words and many flashbacks we learn that her father was a deluded political visionary who had an adulterous relationship. She was brought up by a step mother obsessed with religion and to bring her husband back to the true faith (of course hers). At his death Hannah is entrusted with his unfinished political leaflet for her to complete. One thing leads to another and burdened with a bad relationship and a dysfunctional family Hannah suffers a crippling breakdown and ends up in an asylum.

Nothing in life is black and white and this story excels in chronicling Hannah‘s decline. This ironically and compelling novel is not gruesome or sad by any means and provides some humorous moments describing the political attitudes of the time (this book was first published in the early 90’s) and how young revolutionaries come to face the harsh reality of life.

The story opens slowly and is hard to grasp at first but once it started to swirl with Hannah’s many thoughts it was harder to put down. This book is nicely written, first class dialogue and wonderful descriptions. Hannah’s depiction is outstanding and so are her supporting characters. 

I didn't know at first what to make of this book. In hindsight after these thoughts I must say it wasn't bad at all.