In the Mind’s Eye
In this novella set just after World War I, Caitlin, a newly graduated psychologist interning at the Toronto Hospital for the Insane, grapples with both personal and professional dilemmas. She is one of the first women to enter her profession and must forge her own path without role models. Will she continue to work with hospitalized schizophrenics when her time as an intern is over? Will she go ahead and marry her fiancé, who is something of a self-important careerist, but whose intellect captivates her? Her relationship with Philip, a young, severely mentally ill patient, threatens to cross professional boundaries. Her feelings for another man, recently returned from war and traumatized by it, leads to an unexpected romantic encounter. In the end, she comes to see others and herself more clearly and has a better idea of what she wants from life.
Much of the novella consists of exposition, grounded in Caitlin’s point of view. I would have liked a bit more dialogue and more opportunity to observe characters directly. The scenes with the fiancé are quite spare, barely sketched out. Philip’s relationship with Caitlin is the heart of the novella and is deeply moving. But he is fully developed as a character only late in the story when Caitlin reads his journal. It might have been better to give the reader more of a sense of who he is sooner. The author is a retired psychotherapist, and the writing is psychologically perceptive. It is also poetic and often strikingly beautiful. I was engrossed throughout and would love to read a longer, more fleshed out work by this author.