The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith. Review by Pheebs.
Eve Smith’s The Waiting Rooms is a simply fantastic dystopia-slash-family drama; I was gripped the whole way through. It describes the devastating consequences of a global antibiotic-resistant TB pandemic through the eyes of mothers and daughters. It’s very refreshing to read from a female viewpoint, one that is often overlooked in disaster fiction. The vitality of the inner narrative brings pathos and cleverly juxtaposes the domesticity of ordinary life with the suffering in extraordinary times.
Kate lives post-Crisis and helps as a nurse to end the lives of elderly patients that have outlived the new legal limit of receiving medical treatment. She is searching for her biological mother after being adopted as a baby, but she discovers that time is running out as her mother is 69 and cut-off from medication is 70…
The narrative also weaves in the perspectives and stories of further strongly developed characters – those of ageing but feisty Lily in a care home and of Mary, a scientist at the heart of the pandemic.
It’s thought-provokingly realistic and uncomfortably prophetic, so much so that, whenever I resurfaced, I was unsure about which world I was living in. But not only is it intricately researched about how circumstances could lead to such an infection-phobic world, the authenticity of the characters hooks you in; I could feel exactly what each woman felt, as Smith navigates their emotional responses to the madness of their lives with a subtlety that is delightfully addictive. Attention is paid to small details that many authors would ignore, but which add a richness and enhance the story. They make me think more about the world around me… and whatever world it may become.
It’s out on Kindle and please, please, please: absolutely everyone should read this book, as it not only depicts a (at this point) much-recognised crisis of infection, but also provides a window on keeping our humanity in spite of it.
The Waiting Rooms; Orenda Books; Kindle edition out now; paperback out 9 July 2020.