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Summary

I have decided to write down everything that happens, because I feel, I suppose, I may be putting myself in danger.

London, 1965. An unworldly young woman believes that a charismatic psychotherapist, Collins Braithwaite, has driven her sister to suicide. Intent on confirming her suspicions, she assumes a false identity and presents herself to him as a client, recording her experiences in a series of notebooks. But she soon finds herself drawn into a world in which she can no longer be certain of anything. Even her own character.

In Case Study, Graeme Macrae Burnet presents these notebooks interspersed with his own biographical research into Collins Braithwaite. The result is a dazzling - and often wickedly humorous - meditation on the nature of sanity, identity and truth itself, by one of the most inventive novelists writing today.

©2021 Graeme Macrae Burnet (P)2021 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

What listeners say about Case Study

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

As Good as His Bloody Project

Macrae Burnet plays with the reader in this great tale of a renegade psychiatrist in 1960’s London. Fiction written as a biography taken from diary records, the story flows easily during the entire listen. The story questions who we are as individuals to ourselves and to others.

Thoroughly recommend this and the presentation is flawless.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting, but not particularly special.

The three previous Burnet books that I read were very good and I automatically assumed that this would be another memorable tale. Unfortunately, it felt like a let down and, whilst not badly written, didn't draw me in, as the others did.

Clever authors like Burnet don't write bad books but their genius has limits and we can't expect each novel to be a five star sensation. Many will like this book (I didn't dislike it) so take this review with a pinch of salt and judge for yourself.

3 people found this helpful

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  • L
  • 22-12-21

Brilliant marred by male narrator

I'm researching R D Laing and the character here is a pale imitation, but the idea of a narcissistic imitator is impressively and believably pulled off. Sadly, the male narrator was weak compared to the female narrator and did not bring him alive for me. The female character was the best part; complex, funny, tragic, and very evocative of the period. The ingenious and dangerous ways minds help us to escape our cages is cleverly explored. Also the lengths we go to to hide the truth from ourselves, let alone others - how can we ever be known or understood, except maybe through the guises of fiction?
A good story, recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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Cunning, Comical, Compelling

So good I listened twice. It may even get another airing because Case Study’s layered complexity is suffused with wit and wisdom and totally merits a third listen.

If you’re new to GMB you’ve a treat in store. His 2015 novel, ‘His Bloody Project’ is an absolute gem and many of the tropes; found documents, characters teetering on the brink of insanity, glorious attention to historical detail and lashings of black humour are brilliantly evoked in Case Study.

Set largely in 1960s London, Case Study explores the relationship between a young woman ‘Rebecca Smyth’ and her avant garde therapist, Collins Braithwaite. Rebecca is an assumed name. “Perhaps on account of Mrs du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca had always struck me as the most dazzling of names. I liked the way its three short syllables felt in my mouth ending in that breathy, open-lipped exhalation. Why should I not, for once, be a Rebecca?”

Along with the name, she fabricates a persona. Believing Braithwaite to be responsible for her sister’s suicide she’s intent on investigating further by posing as a ‘nutcase’ in need of therapy. Her unworldliness and strict beliefs on what constitutes normality lead to a series of bizarre and frequently hilarious observations, most of which are far more outrageous than alter ego Rebecca’s.

As with all the great books there’s plenty of shade to offset the light. The recent loss of Rebecca’s mother and sister are never openly discussed but form a melancholy backdrop to her life and, more poignantly, her father’s. The tight-lipped formality of the father and daughter, both deeply wounded, is beyond tragic.

At its heart this is a novel about identity. How we see ourselves, the versions of self we project and the blurred lines between reality and fiction. To this end GMB has included historical figures such as psychotherapist R D Laing and actor Dirk Bogarde, and others who may or may not be real; therapist Collins Braithwaite; actor Jane Gressingham. I’ve spent way too long trying to work out who’s real and who’s imagined.

Cunning, comical and deeply compelling, Case Study is superb: it didn’t tug at my heartstrings but gave me more proper laughs than any novel this year. Loved it.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating multiple narrative

This is an unusual novel that plays tricks with multiple levels of narrative and circles round a mystery that - in the best way - will never be solved. Thought-provoking, gripping, and flattering of the reader in the assumption that you can hold your own here. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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Clever, witty and engaging

I loved this, a well told tale that keeps you involved throughout. The cleverness of the format is never relied upon as a replacement for good beautifully narrated.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating and a great book to listen to

I loved this book ,l listened to it in 2 days. The story is very well written with superb characters . The narrators do a great job and sound as I would imagine the people in the story would . I would wholeheartedly recommend it .

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

Pointless

Presented as the results of detailed research into the discredited Dr. Arthur Collins-Braithwaite from Darlington, it is in fact all made up and feels rather pointless.
We alternately hear extracts from the diaries of a young woman whose sister committed suicide after consulting Dr. Braithwaite. Not just about Dr. Braithwaite, these diaries seem like unfocussed ramblings about her life in general at that time.
Interspersed with diary extracts we hear about the author's own researches into the life story of Dr. Braitwaite in convincing detail. But as I say, since it's all fiction it all feels rather pointless.
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2022, I'll be gobsmacked if it even makes it to the shortlist.

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Solid story, great narration.

This was a well written book but the plot was mostly predictable. However sometimes it’s good to know exactly where you are going. The narrator’s were both excellent Serena Manteghi in particular played her parts well. I would recommend however to listen at x1.1 speed as some sections were overly slow.
Having listened I wonder if it might have been better to read the book instead?
I enjoyed it though and would recommend it rather than deter a new listener.