Claire’s Head by Catherine Bush
I bought this because I really enjoyed Rules of Engagement.
Like RoE, Claire’s Head deals (in part) with the dynamic between sisters. I don’t have a sister, so reading about sister relationships is kind of like exploring a foreign country for me. Which is to say, strange, but at the same time, interesting.
The story is primarily an exploration of pain and how we live with it. Claire and her oldest sister Rachel suffer from migraines. Middle sister Allison does not. (Is it a cliche that the middle kid is the prosaic one? Is it meant to be?) The sisters lost their parents in a freak accident some years earlier, so there is also an element of grief involved.
Essentially the plot is as follows: Rachel disappears. Claire travels the world looking for her. Allison does not join her. Claire’s personal and work relationships suffer the more time she spends away. She also suffers from increasingly devastating migraines.
The descriptions of Claire’s pain can be hard to read and I was relieved to get through the book without triggering any psychosomatic headaches.
I didn’t find CH quite as compelling a story as RoE. The mystery is pretty straightforward. But of course, a twisty plot is not the point here, and as an exploration of what it’s like living with chronic pain, particularly pain in one’s head—which is different from other pain, because you can’t distance yourself from it—it’s superb.