The Other Side of You is the story of the encounter between two people, a psychiatrist and her patient, both carrying a drama in their lives, like a hole in their hearts. Her name is Elizabeth Cruikshank and she just tried to commit suicide, not as a call for help but with the will to end it all. David McBride is a 45-year-old psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who prefers a talking therapy to drugging his patients. He is devoted to them and has a real need to help others that may hide a need to help himself. His private life is not so fulfilling: he is unwilling to face the fact that his marriage is a failure, and is haunted by the death of his elder brother in front of his eyes, when they were just boys.

After periods of initial silence, a reference to the artist Caravaggio, made by David, unlocks something in Elizabeth’s mind and she begins to tell the story of her life, a story of love and loss, missed opportunities and postponed happiness, a story doomed to end badly. The loss Elizabeth experienced reminds David of his own loss, and helps him in return to face some truths. The encounter between these two lost souls, Elizabeth and David, will have a positive outcome for both of them.

Salley Vickers writes beautifully, her novel is subtly erudite, she evokes the city of Rome with feeling and relevance, her characters are complex and come to life easily, but, as it happens sometimes, leaving me at a loss to explain it, I wasn’t moved by the story, I watched the characters from a distance, failed to empathize with them or even to be touched by the meaning behind the paintings. I hate it when it happens, because when writing a review, I should be able to explain why, despite my inability of pointing out what is wrong, I do not like a novel. The closest I could get to an explanation is this: what happens between the patient and the psychiatrist in the novel, this catharsis brought by the encounter of two personalities with resonances in each other’s psyche is exactly what did not happen between this author and this reader (me)…

Anyway, don’t let this review influence you choice: this novel generally got excellent reviews elsewhere…

Rating: 3/5