I came to Emma Glass’ writing in a fairly interesting way. As you may have read in my bio, I’m doing an English Lit & Creative Writing degree part-time. I’m studying with Open University and last year they ran a ‘How to Get Published’ event alongside Writers and Artists. Emma was one of the authors that did a talk that day about her first novel Peach. I loved her talk and found her to be incredibly engaging and interesting. I bought Peach and had a short chat with Emma, which was really lovely. A fan for life was born that day (as in me being a fan of hers, I doubt it’s the other way around. You never know though – maybe I should have more self-confidence!). Anyway, I bought Rest and Be Thankful a couple of weeks ago and eagerly awaited its arrival.
Reader, it did not disappoint.
Rest and Be Thankful is about Laura, a nurse in a paediatric unit who is burnt out. Laura spends more hours caring for tiny, helpless babies than she does at home and it’s taking its toll. She’s bone-tired, her hair is greasy and (added bonus!) her relationship with her boyfriend is falling apart. When she can finally surrender to sleep, Laura is immersed in vivid, dark dreams of water.
Now, this may be a short novel but bloody hell does it pack a punch. Glass’ writing is absolutely breath-taking. Lyrical and poetic, it lures you in and enchants you in a way that’s almost hypnotic. Like the water that submerges Laura in her dreams, I was pulled under the emotional waves of this book. I was torn between wanting to fly through the pages and wanting to savour every sentence.
Rest and Be Thankful is particularly timely given our current circumstances. As I write, the NHS works tirelessly to care for patients during this pandemic (and always). This story gave me the tiniest glimpse into the tremendous strain put on nurses, both physically and mentally. Laura is chafed all over, both her hands and spirit are scrubbed raw, yet still she carries on.
Aside from that, and in the nicest way, this book is kinda creepy. Reality blurs with nightmare and you can’t be sure what is real or what is in Laura’s imagination. A faceless figure haunts Laura, both awake and asleep. A symbol of her ever-present anxiety, this sinister presence stays close by yet always just out of reach. Dark and alluring, you’re drawn further into the increasingly fragile state of Laura’s mind. Or maybe it’s simply a ghost story? You’re left feeling slightly unnerved and uncertain.
Glass has a magical way with words. If you’ve read Peach, I’d say this is more accessible but still retains the same quirkiness and visceral nature. Glass’ writing is a celebration of language and has a musical quality that is simply quite unlike anything I’ve read before. It leaves its mark on you and stays inside of you long after you’ve finished the book.
I’m already looking forward to the next one.
Grab a copy here if you fancy giving it a go.