I love literary fiction and I’d been hearing lots of wonderful things about Don’t Think A Single Thought by Diana Cambridge so when publisher Louise Walters offered me a copy in return for an honest review I was delighted to accept. I had intended to post this review on my return from India in April, but with world events as they are and India having nullified our visas and closed its borders we’re obviously not going this week!
Published by Louise Walters Books, Don’t Think A Single Thought is available for purchase here.
Don’t Think A Single Thought
1960s New York, and Emma Bowden seems to have it all – a glamorous Manhattan apartment, a loving husband, and a successful writing career.
But while Emma and her husband Jonathan are on vacation at the Hamptons, a child drowns in the sea, and suspicion falls on Emma. As her picture-perfect life spirals out of control, and old wounds resurface, a persistent and monotonous voice in Emma’s head threatens to destroy all that she has worked for…
Taut, elegant and mesmerising, Don’t Think a Single Thought lays bare a marriage, and a woman, and examines the decisions – and mistakes – that shape all of our lives.
My Review of Don’t Think A Single Thought
Emma Bowden epitomises glamour and a perfect life, but appearances can be deceiving.
More of a novella than full length novel, Don’t Think A Single Thought packs a powerful punch as Diana Cambridge shows the reader into Emma’s mind with unnerving precision. Emma is a woman who appears to have everything and yet is haunted by her past, by the voices in her dreams and her present fears, so that I found her equally distasteful, hypnotic and disturbing. Indeed, Emma could be said to represent something rotten in the heart of modern society.
Emma is so very obviously shaped by her past, and the drip feeding of information about her is quite creepy and shocking. Her refusal to think about previous events illustrates perfectly how we redefine ourselves, create false memories and delineate our identities. The psychology behind Emma’s character is very unsettling and made Don’t Think A Single Thought feel quite Hitchcock thriller like in many ways, especially as some of the events are seen through the prism of Emma’s depression so that we are unsure how guilty or innocent she is.
However, Emma is also created partly by the patriarchal society in which she lives. I found her therapist’s and her husband Jonathan’s behaviour towards her quite insidious but pitch perfect in describing the wealthy American life of the 1960s and the role women had – or rather, were given. Diana Cambridge generated swirling feelings in me as I read. I didn’t like Emma and Jonathan, but as their relationship was explored and uncovered I was compelled to observe them until I felt as complicit in their behaviours as they are. From finding Emma superficial initially, I realised how brilliantly I was being manipulated by Diana Cambridge’s writing, making me respond to Emma much as Johathan does, until I was shocked and saddened by Emma’s life and rather contemptuous of my own early reactions. Diana Cambridge controlled my responses through intelligent prose that is sparse, sharp and sinister.
Don’t Think A Single Thought explores self-deception, guilt and truth hugely effectively. The balance of power in marriage, the nature of love, family and parenthood and the fickle world of society make this book utterly fascinating. Emma’s mental health seemed to me to be a universal theme that might apply to any one of us in any situation, making for a salutary and affecting reading experience.
Don’t Think A Single Thought is an intelligent and captivating insight into modern life, mental health and marriage. I found it absorbing, fascinating and very unsettling. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
About Diana Cambridge
Diana Cambridge is an award-winning journalist. She has written for many national newspapers and magazines, gives regular writing workshops, and is a Writer-in-Residence at Sherborne, Dorset. She is Agony Aunt to Writing Magazine. She lives in Bath. Don’t Think a Single Thought is her first novel.
You can follow Diana on Twitter @DianaCambridge for more information.