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Masterful, darkly comic and unputdownably brilliant, this first novel by Catherine Eisner is an instant 21st-century classic. Sister Morphine tackles themes of suicidality, sibling murder, child abuse, morbid self-harm, guilt, jealousy, incest, drug addiction, infidelity, illegitimacy, obsessive compulsion, bereavement and a case of grand larceny in the second degree.
Eisner’s suite of women’s narratives is premised as confidential pages from the case notes of a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN), documenting neuroses and drug therapy interventions. These disturbing case histories, reconstituted as fictions by the CPN for reasons of legal privilege, explore the relationship between aberrant antisocial behaviour among women and the multifaceted, unpredictable side effects of psychoactive prescription drugs and their more bizarre manifestations as criminal behaviour.
‘I've long been an admirer of Catherine Eisner's piquant and highly original fictions in the literary journal, 'Ambit', and of her singularly rich pictorial and sensuous prose (she's an academically trained painter, I understand). Here at last she is given a very much broader canvas for her character studies of women at the end of their tether, though it's the minute detail of their dysfunctional, drug-dependant (and even criminal) lives I admire so much.’ —Johanna Behrendt
‘Not only does [she] use straightforward suspense ... but gives us, as a painter does, areas of intriguing shadow for us to wonder over ... a genuinely unsettling voice, at once comic, intelligent and slightly, scarily deranged ... a true technical triumph.’ —Kate Clanchy, Mslexia
‘Erotic ... enthralling ... very pictorial ... very original.’ —Neville Marten, Ink