I don’t often re-read books, so there are probably only a handful of books I have ever read twice and I doubt I have ever re-read a book three times. I do, however, often like to re-read short stories, my favourite being ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is about a young family who move to the countryside for an extended holiday. The story is narrated in the form of a diary, written by the young woman, who is suffering post-natal depression. She has been prescribed ‘rest’ as a cure to her mental illness, hence the holiday in the countryside. Confined to the house and forbidden from participating in any activity, the young woman is trapped and deteriorates into psychosis. She becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper that decorates the bedroom, locking herself in an refusing to leave. As her health deteriorates further, the narrative becomes more and more haunting, until it reaches its disturbing conclusion.
I have read this story over and over again an every time I do I fall in love with it more. It is fascinating to look into the horrific treatment women with mental heath issues suffered in the 1800s. This short story can be read on so many levels, and the story is brilliantly constructed, with pace and tension constantly building through the story.