Starling Days is a novel about mental health, bisexuality, and how you can’t be healed by a single person. Mina lives in New York City with her husband Oscar, who has to come and fetch her when she’s found standing on the edge of a bridge and is unable to convince the officers she wasn’t about to jump. A chance need for a trip and a desire to get away lead them to travel to London, where Oscar tries to sort out selling some flats for his father and Mina finds herself drawn to Phoebe, the sister of one of Oscar’s oldest friends, whilst she tries to manage going off her medication.
This is a novel deeply about mental health, about how a person perceives their own illness and their suicidal thoughts, and how their husband both tries and fails to understand and to help. It doesn’t shy away from looking at Mina’s thought processes, but also tries to balance thoughts with narrative and with Mina and Oscar’s different perspectives. Phoebe brings another crucial element, not only about attraction, but about how Mina hopes for someone who can bring the sun when she is feeling awful, only for that to not be as easy as it might seem. A thread about Mina’s research into classical women who survive brings interesting parallels and also a comment on how women are treated, though it stays as a background thread rather than coming to the foreground.
Starling Days is moving, a sometimes blunt and sometimes understated novel that explores mental health and human relationships.