Rating:

necessary madness book coverReviewed by Jessa Larsen

Gloria Burgess’s seemingly perfect world comes to an abrupt end when her husband of nine years dies of leukemia. Alone in London, she struggles to cope with her grief whilst trying to successfully raise her young son. She battles the temptation to sink into the same self-absorbed world that drove her own father to suicide.

In Necessary Madness, author Jenn Crowell (who also wrote Etched on Me) takes a look at the mental stability of Gloria after the death of her husband, Bill. Crowell explores the long argued nature vs. nurture–Gloria both blames her parents for her current state of being and hopes that she is not a mimicry of either parent. Whilst dealing with the grief of losing her husband, she wonders if she will be doomed to repeat the damage caused by her own father. 

At the same time, because Gloria agrees to put together a tribute to Bill in the form of one last art show at a prestigious gallery, she meets a new friend. Helping her with the show is the alluring Russian, Jascha, and Gloria wonders if she will repeat her father’s mistake–turning too quickly into the arms of another after the loss of a soulmate. She must rediscover herself as an individual and simultaneously decide what is best for not only herself, but for her son as well.

Necessary Madness takes a look at various psychological arguments and the narrative looks at the madness of trying to decipher and make decisions between all the possibilities. I think, as Gloria did, that you can only try to make the best possible decision at the time, try your best to not repeat past mistakes, but also not dwell on the impossibility of perfection. It truly is  as the title put it, a necessary madness.


Jessa lives in Utah with her husband, two kids, two small chihuahuas, and a cat called Number One Boots Kitten. She balances her work as a website admin with her hobbies of watching anime and playing video games.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Jenn Crowell. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.