Top positive review
A truly compelling work: compulsively readable and very thought-provoking
Reviewed in the United States on May 20, 2015
This is an extraordinary novel about Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), written by the incomparable Shirley Jackson (in 1954!) No one was talking about MPD then, not even therapists. It never actually gained full recognition as a “real” disorder; in the DSM 4 it was classified as DDNOS (dissociative disorder not otherwise specified). The Bird’s Nest is told from several points of view, including 3 of “Elizabeth’s” personalities, as well as her therapist’s and her aunt’s. It is a truly compelling work: compulsively readable and very thought-provoking. I couldn’t put it down. As far as I know, it is the only novel about MPD, although there are numerous biographies and autobiographies, such as the famous Three Faces of Eve (made into a movie of the same name) and Sybil. The best of these is The Flock by Joan Casey, written in 1991. There are also a number of books about MPD itself, rather than about any particular multiple, including Multiple Personality, Allied Disorders and Hypnosis by Eugene Bliss, Childhood Antecedents of Multiple Personality by Richard Kluft, and Diagnosis and Treatment of Multiple Personality Disorder by Frank Putnam. These last two are two of the very best clinical works on the subject.
The Bird’s Nest is a remarkable book, challenging and revelatory. Unlike other books featuring MPD, it has a very well-crafted plot that swiftly sweeps the reader along, just like white-water rafting. I can’t recommend this highly enough. If you are interested in the mystery of the self, then this book is for you.