Who is mad? Who is sane? Who decides? Welcome to the Dorothy Fish, a day hospital in North London! N has been a patient here for thirteen years. Day after day she sits smoking in the common room, swapping medication and comparing MAD money rates. Like all the patients at the Dorothy Fish, N's chief ambition is never to get discharged. Each year when her annual assessment comes round, she is relieved to learn that she hasn't got any better. Then in walks Poppy Shakespeare in her six-inch skirt and twelve-inch heels. She is certain she isn't mentally ill and desperate to return to her life outside. Though baffled by Poppy's attitude, N agrees to help. Together they plot to gain Poppy's freedom. But in a world where everything's upside-down, are they crazy enough to upset the system?Funny, brilliant and moving, "Poppy Shakespeare" looks at madness from the inside, questioning our mental health system and the borders we place between sanity and insanity. Written in high-voltage prose, original and troubling, it is a stunning debut.
Shortlisted for BT Mind Awards Book of the Year 2007.
Clare Allan was the winner of the first Orange/Harpers short story prize. She lives in London. This is her first novel.