The Dark Circle - Linda Grant

**** The circle of former TB patients

This book by Linda Grant, who I had already quite appreciated in “Upstairs at the Party”, transports the reader to a British sanatorium in the 1950s where tuberculosis patients were kept, or perhaps the most correct word is segregated. The story takes place at a time when streptomycin had already been discovered, but had not yet arrived in the UK, so the characters live in the hope that they can be cured sooner or later and not end up like all their predecessors.
The story specifically follows two teenage London twins, Lenny and Miriam, who are sent to a sanatorium in Kent by the British National Health System. Here they live with people from a very different social background, but the disease that unites all of them smooths out the differences and allows the creation of very close relationships.
The author uses tones that are sometimes light in telling the stories of the protagonists, but alongside this she describes the painful, cruel and useless treatments, as well as the psychological abuse, to which all patients are subjected. The contrast between the two leaves its mark as you read, as you go from laughter to horror, anger and sadness, and makes you mull over when you close the book.
The characters come out of the pages and their banal daily vicissitudes, in the way they are shown to us by the author, become almost compelling, as well as one is shocked to enter the sick mind of the doctor who is supposed to cure them.
For me it was also an opportunity to learn more about the historical period in relation to the clumsy attempts to treat tuberculosis, before effective and definitive cures were available.
I didn’t put the fifth star on because of the bittersweet ending. Perhaps it was difficult to come up with a better one, given the story, but, as happened with the other book by the author that I read, I had the distinct impression that there was a drop in tension and excessive dragging into the final part of the book.


The Dark Circle on Amazon.

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