Title: Everyday Madness
Author: Susan Midalia
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Fremantle Press
Published: March 2021
Everyday Madness is a gripping and stunning novel by Susan Midalia that brings to light the complex nature of familial relationships and how we often take the people closest to us for granted.
Set in Perth, approximately 2009, Everyday Madness follows the lives of Meg, Ella, Bernard, and Gloria. Having divorced from her husband, Meg is an anxious single mother with an 11 (soon-to-be-12) year-old daughter named Ella who desperately wants a mobile phone and to paint her bedroom walls black. They are a small tight-knit family unit that proves to sometimes be suffocating due to Meg’s tendency to hover and be over protective. Bernard is a struggling vacuum cleaner salesman who seeks help from Meg, his ex-daughter-in-law, when his wife, Gloria, suddenly stops talking. Bernard and Gloria have been married since they met as young adults but have let time rinse the passion and tenderness from their marriage. Each of the characters that belong to this makeshift family are lively and complex—they could almost be mistaken as the family next door.
The heart of Everyday Madness lies in its ability to create meaning and warmth from what may seem like the lives of everyday people. What occurs within celebrates the beauty of the mundane and the unromanticised truth of hardship. The characters’ experiences of love, resentment, forgiveness, and estrangement are likely to be familiar to readers on some level. Everyday Madness speaks to a family’s ability to repair relationships through listening and understanding but it also acknowledges that there are some relationships that cannot be repaired.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Everyday Madness for its subtle, albeit familiar, setting. As it is set in Perth, Western Australia, there are many places which are mentioned that are very vivid in my mind. From Dianella suburbia to London Court off of Hay St—each place mentioned makes up the everyday setting of Perth. I also really enjoyed reading from the perspective of Ella because, at the time of the novel’s setting, I would’ve been a similar age. It felt like I could revisit my own thoughts and feelings as a young girl growing up in Perth in the noughties, and for that I thank Susan Midalia. It is not often that I can read a novel that is set in the exact place and time of my own childhood, especially so accurately.
Susan Midalia has crafted a beautiful and poignant novel that encapsulates the complexities of family and the effort that is needed to maintain a loving relationship. Everyday Madness is a wonderful read and is especially delightful if you have lived in Perth.