Book reviews

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh – Book Review


A shocking, hilarious and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s experiment in narcotic hibernation, aided and abetted by one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature. Our narrator has many of the advantages of life, on the surface. Young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, she lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like everything else, by her inheritance. But there is a vacuum at the heart of things, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents in college, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her alleged best friend. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

This story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs, designed to heal us from our alienation from this world, shows us how reasonable, even necessary, that alienation sometimes is. Blackly funny, both merciless and compassionate – dangling its legs over the ledge of 9/11 – this novel is a showcase for the gifts of one of America’s major young writers working at the height of her powers.


My first thoughts on looking at the book was the cover showed a bored, sad looking young woman, and I think this fits with the feel of the story. The praise on the back of the book is for the Ottessa Moshfegh’s previous book and it made me wonder why? Was this one not worthy of note? Not at all!

This tells the story of an unnamed character, who decides to sleep, to hibernate for a whole year, in the hope that when she wakes, she will be able to feel something again, to have some emotion. To reach this end she visits the truly deranged Dr Tuttle, the really great character in this novel, who prescribes all manner of drugs to the protagonist, who basically, abuses them in order to sleep constantly.

There is really nothing likeable about any of the characters at all and I think that is the point. It feels to me like this is a tale of apathy, as though the whole world is in a waking sleep, self centred and not really noticing or caring what is going on around us and it’s now time to wake up…..

This will be a great book for a book club as while there is nothing much happening in the story,  there are a lot of thought provoking statements and observations in it just ripe for discussion….you will want to talk about it, even if it’s just about Dr Tuttle!


published by Jonathan Cape ( Part of Penguin Random House) 2018