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Publisher's Summary

I have decided to write down everything that happens, because I feel, I suppose, I may be putting myself in danger.

London, 1965. An unworldly young woman believes that a charismatic psychotherapist, Collins Braithwaite, has driven her sister to suicide. Intent on confirming her suspicions, she assumes a false identity and presents herself to him as a client, recording her experiences in a series of notebooks. But she soon finds herself drawn into a world in which she can no longer be certain of anything. Even her own character.

In Case Study, Graeme Macrae Burnet presents these notebooks interspersed with his own biographical research into Collins Braithwaite. The result is a dazzling - and often wickedly humorous - meditation on the nature of sanity, identity and truth itself, by one of the most inventive novelists writing today.

©2021 Graeme Macrae Burnet (P)2021 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

What listeners say about Case Study

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  • Manda N
  • 10-10-21

As Good as His Bloody Project

Macrae Burnet plays with the reader in this great tale of a renegade psychiatrist in 1960’s London. Fiction written as a biography taken from diary records, the story flows easily during the entire listen. The story questions who we are as individuals to ourselves and to others.

Thoroughly recommend this and the presentation is flawless.

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  • Interceptor
  • 05-29-22

Interesting, but not particularly special.

The three previous Burnet books that I read were very good and I automatically assumed that this would be another memorable tale. Unfortunately, it felt like a let down and, whilst not badly written, didn't draw me in, as the others did.

Clever authors like Burnet don't write bad books but their genius has limits and we can't expect each novel to be a five star sensation. Many will like this book (I didn't dislike it) so take this review with a pinch of salt and judge for yourself.

3 people found this helpful

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  • L
  • 12-22-21

Brilliant marred by male narrator

I'm researching R D Laing and the character here is a pale imitation, but the idea of a narcissistic imitator is impressively and believably pulled off. Sadly, the male narrator was weak compared to the female narrator and did not bring him alive for me. The female character was the best part; complex, funny, tragic, and very evocative of the period. The ingenious and dangerous ways minds help us to escape our cages is cleverly explored. Also the lengths we go to to hide the truth from ourselves, let alone others - how can we ever be known or understood, except maybe through the guises of fiction?
A good story, recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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  • JJJ35
  • 07-04-22

Cunning, Comical, Compelling

So good I listened twice. It may even get another airing because Case Study’s layered complexity is suffused with wit and wisdom and totally merits a third listen.

If you’re new to GMB you’ve a treat in store. His 2015 novel, ‘His Bloody Project’ is an absolute gem and many of the tropes; found documents, characters teetering on the brink of insanity, glorious attention to historical detail and lashings of black humour are brilliantly evoked in Case Study.

Set largely in 1960s London, Case Study explores the relationship between a young woman ‘Rebecca Smyth’ and her avant garde therapist, Collins Braithwaite. Rebecca is an assumed name. “Perhaps on account of Mrs du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca had always struck me as the most dazzling of names. I liked the way its three short syllables felt in my mouth ending in that breathy, open-lipped exhalation. Why should I not, for once, be a Rebecca?”

Along with the name, she fabricates a persona. Believing Braithwaite to be responsible for her sister’s suicide she’s intent on investigating further by posing as a ‘nutcase’ in need of therapy. Her unworldliness and strict beliefs on what constitutes normality lead to a series of bizarre and frequently hilarious observations, most of which are far more outrageous than alter ego Rebecca’s.

As with all the great books there’s plenty of shade to offset the light. The recent loss of Rebecca’s mother and sister are never openly discussed but form a melancholy backdrop to her life and, more poignantly, her father’s. The tight-lipped formality of the father and daughter, both deeply wounded, is beyond tragic.

At its heart this is a novel about identity. How we see ourselves, the versions of self we project and the blurred lines between reality and fiction. To this end GMB has included historical figures such as psychotherapist R D Laing and actor Dirk Bogarde, and others who may or may not be real; therapist Collins Braithwaite; actor Jane Gressingham. I’ve spent way too long trying to work out who’s real and who’s imagined.

Cunning, comical and deeply compelling, Case Study is superb: it didn’t tug at my heartstrings but gave me more proper laughs than any novel this year. Loved it.

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  • Laura
  • 06-18-22

Fascinating multiple narrative

This is an unusual novel that plays tricks with multiple levels of narrative and circles round a mystery that - in the best way - will never be solved. Thought-provoking, gripping, and flattering of the reader in the assumption that you can hold your own here. Highly recommended.

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  • susan
  • 12-17-21

Clever, witty and engaging

I loved this, a well told tale that keeps you involved throughout. The cleverness of the format is never relied upon as a replacement for good beautifully narrated.

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  • kelpie
  • 12-04-21

Fascinating and a great book to listen to

I loved this book ,l listened to it in 2 days. The story is very well written with superb characters . The narrators do a great job and sound as I would imagine the people in the story would . I would wholeheartedly recommend it .

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  • Mrs. Jennefer Lee
  • 09-21-22

interesting idea

I really struggled to finish this book. If it had not been a bookclub read it would have been consigned to the ether after about 20 pages. For me it just didn't feel like 60's London.

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  • Rachel Redford
  • 08-14-22

Appealing more to Booker judges than to me


I loved Macrae Burnet’s two previous novels His Bloody Project and The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau and reviewed them on my Listener Audible page. Having summarised The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau with “puzzling, tantalising, intriguing, highly original and intelligent”, I was hugely looking forward to Case Study, Macrae Burnet’s newest novel shortlisted for the Booker, but I’m disappointed and continued with it only because I had enjoyed his previous work so much.

Critics have lavished praise on Case Study , but I think that Macrae Burnet has overdone the complex, immensely clever and devious literary mind games played with the reader / listener, so that the intellectually challenging, wit and teasing is at the expense of any realistic humanity. The main characters are not likeable and remain very much the author’s constructs deliberately disconcerting the reader at every twist and turn. I appreciated the reliability and unreliability of the various textual forms (testaments, diary, notebooks, biography...), but overall I became weary of the teasing games as Macrae Burnet explored, amongst other concepts, the nature of truth and untruth, of appearance and reality,, of the duplicitous forms of self and of the nebulous forms of identity.

The disreputable psychiatric therapist Collins Braithwaite is the focus of the author’s trashing of this line of psychology. Exceptionally unpleasant, arrogant and quarrelsome, he stares at his young woman patient “Rebecca Smyth” (who may or may not be who she says she is and whose sister may or may not have committed suicide at Braithwaite’s instigation) with his flies open ‘like a teenage boy’s mouth,’ and he likes to masturbate whilst wearing his mother’s nightdress. Throughout his life from childhood to pitiful old age, he attracted from me not an iota of sympathy or liking.

The meticulously created London 1960s culture is authentic and real in its many details but Braithwaite’s part in it meeting and working with a host of people including Dirk Bogarde, Terence Rattigan, Colin Wilson and the Beatles is a typical Macrae Burnet tease, as is the hatred for R.D.Laing, the great Scottish psychosis specialist, believed by the egotistical Braithwaite to be a “thieving jock” who has stolen his thesis.

A very clever work on many levels but I didn’t enjoy it. The Booker judges obviously did.

I have given 4 only for performance because of the high number of mispronunciations mainly from the female narrator. Google would tell her that the “mots” in “bons mots” doesn’t rhyme with ‘lots’ and that the “terrible” in “enfant terrible” is pronounced as it is in French, but the errors are with plain English words as well.

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  • David M
  • 08-03-22

Pointless

Presented as the results of detailed research into the discredited Dr. Arthur Collins-Braithwaite from Darlington, it is in fact all made up and feels rather pointless.
We alternately hear extracts from the diaries of a young woman whose sister committed suicide after consulting Dr. Braithwaite. Not just about Dr. Braithwaite, these diaries seem like unfocussed ramblings about her life in general at that time.
Interspersed with diary extracts we hear about the author's own researches into the life story of Dr. Braitwaite in convincing detail. But as I say, since it's all fiction it all feels rather pointless.
Longlisted for the Booker Prize 2022, I'll be gobsmacked if it even makes it to the shortlist.

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  • finnea
  • 11-01-21

Brilliant, clever, thrilling and very witty

i absolutely loved this book. it's a total delight. The writing style is masterful. Macrae Burnet's characterisation of the pseudo-therapist Braithwaite, his writing and run-ins with RD Laing, Dirk Bogarde et al is completely brilliant and wildly funny. On the one hand his character is a boorish provocateur, writing impenetrable waffle -- on the other, the ideas of the fictional books by Braithwaite are often quite clever in themselves. What might've simply been good satire thus becomes a far more complex and enjoyable proposition with many layers of irony and and various less than reliable narrators.

i enjoyed both the main characters and the readers, despite Rooney's odd pronunciations and wild accents. For Braithwaite he seems to lurch between Sunderland and Birmingham, never quite landing in Darlington. Nevertheless it was a total pleasure to listen to.

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