I found A Special Relationship to be an astonishing book for many reasons. Author Douglas Kennedy has zeroed in on the feelings and emotions of a woman who becomes extremely desperate, in a way I’ve found in no other novel. It is as if he transferred his own male personality into the inner nature of his woman character who never once loses her femininity. In my opinion, this is the major positive factor in this very special story by a male author.
Sally Goodchild meets a handsome foreign correspondent while she is on assignment in Cairo. Both seem equally attracted to one another; both quickly end up in bed together; both quickly fall in love. Sally, of course, ends up pregnant, and what she thinks is her noble lover agrees to marry her provided she return to England with him to raise their son.
A Special Relationship reveals the difficulty of Sally’s delivery. An emergency Caesarean is performed to save her baby’s life, but there is a constant nagging question in Sally’s psyche after delivery. Since the infant’s umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck, would her son be brain damaged in some way? In spite of tests and doctors’ assurances, this question plagues her mind. Sleep deprived because of constant care for her son, Sally becomes increasingly depressed, so much so that she is persuaded to sign herself into a mental health unit where she can receive counseling while her son is cared for by hospital staff.
Sally’s husband is mildly supportive. He visits her daily, but not for long periods of time, and always complains that he must quickly return to his job. He rarely visits his newborn son. Sally submerges into a very deep post natal depression which seems unshakable. Her world cannot stay afloat. She sinks so deeply into depression that she can no longer eat or talk. Her health becomes a serious concern.
Psychiatrists begin talking of shock treatments to try to give Sally back her life with her newborn if her despondency continues. But unwittingly, Sally’s roommate becomes angry with her and slaps her violently across the face because Sally refuses to eat even after her roommate tells her about the horrors of shock treatments.
Her roommate’s single painful backhand irrevocably slaps Sally back to reality. She begins to heal slowly, but nicely. Eventually, she is released from the hospital with her baby and resumes the tiring chore of taking care of her newborn at home. Sally receives almost no help from her husband who quits his job in order to write and publish his first novel.
After a quick funeral trip to the United States to lay her sister’s husband to rest, in A Special Relationship Sally returns to an empty house-completely empty-everything of any value is gone including her son. She discovers that her husband has run off with a wealthy woman; that her house will be sold out from under her; and that she will no longer be permitted to see her son due to Court Order. Her husband has usurped what she thought were mutually held back accounts.
What will happen to this woman who has already had one “dark night of the soul?” Will she be faced with renewed depression? Will she ever see her son again? And why? Why would her husband who has been mildly supportive-why would he so suddenly abandon her? Here is where I will leave the reader. Here is where the reader will walk through HELL with Sally as she desperately attempts to fight back knowing how deeply she fell into her last depression event.
Will her recent bout with depression submerge her into meaninglessness, darkness, and utter despair; or will it act as a goad to give her renewed strength to face overwhelming problems? As a reviewer, I would highly recommend this book to all readers who are interested in how the human mind deals with horrific situations. Author Douglas Kennedy has certainly done his homework in researching and then presenting a believable tale of depression, despair, caring, and redemption.
A reader will quickly get caught up in the arrogant, deceitful maliciousness of a lying man who at one and the same time claims to love his wife and son, but when given the chance for a life of ease where a rich woman can support him, he escapes into her world where he thinks he will become a renowned author.
A Special Relationship is a a very special novel you’ll unlikely forget. Its well defined characters will surely grab your undivided attention and your heart.