The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually: Compassionate portrayal of grief

Book review: Helen Cullen depicts mental illness in all its senseless brutality

Helen Cullen

Helen Cullen

Novels that explore the challenges faced by victims of mental health problems can make for difficult reads although, at their best, they help to illuminate the hardships faced by the sufferers and their loved ones. From Mrs Dalloway to Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s recent Starling Days, writers have frequently imagined characters laid low by inexplicable anxieties and depression, sometimes succumbing to their illness, sometimes surviving it.

Helen Cullen’s second novel is a strong addition to this body of work, following the experiences of an Irish family across 40 years. A compassionate portrayal of love, support and grief, The Truth Must Dazzle Gradually contains moments so recognisable to anyone who has suffered from depression that credit must be given to Cullen for depicting mental illness in all its senseless brutality while never exploiting it for sentimental reasons.

The Irish Times
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