The Outward Room

The Outward Room

Book - 2010
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The Outward Room is a book about a young woman's journey from madness to self-discovery. It created a sensation when it was first published in 1937, and has lost none of its immediacy or its power to move the reader.
Having suffered a nervous breakdown after her brother's death in a car accident, Harriet Demuth is committed to a mental hospital, but her doctor's Freudian nostrums do little to make her well. Convinced that she and she alone can refashion her life, Harriet makes a daring escape from the hospital--hopping a train by night and riding the rails into the vastness of New York City in the light of the rising sun. It is the middle of the Great Depression, and at first Harriet is lost among the city's anonymous multitudes. She pawns her jewelry and lives an increasingly hand-to-mouth existence until she meets John, a machine-shop worker. Slowly Harriet begins to recover her sense of self; slowly she and John begin to fall in love. The story of that emerging love, told with the lyricism of Virginia Woolf and the realism of Theodore Dreiser, is the heart of Millen Brand's remarkable book.
Publisher: New York : New York Review Books, 2010, c1937
ISBN: 9781590173596
Branch Call Number: FIC BRA
Characteristics: 240 p. ; 21 cm


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melwyk May 01, 2012

The main character, a woman who eventually chooses the name Harriet, is in a mental hospital as the book opens. She's suffered a nervous breakdown at age 15, after her brother's death. She can't bear to see her parents when they try to visit, and her recovery seems a tenuous hope. She's been there seven years and her doctor seems to be getting impatient with her. She begins thinking about escape...then miraculously circumstances conspire to make it a possibility, one she takes advantage of.

The smallest scenes are full of import, and though the story seems quiet, with Harriet continually testing herself, there is a lot going on. Harriet moves from hopeless to radiantly hopeful, and it is wonderful.

Full Review at Indextrious Reader


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melwyk May 01, 2012

"Yet the evidences of winter were small, only to be seen, like the signs of spring, by the heart that feels small changes."

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