At this moment on the other side of the world, a girl is sitting in the dark. A rare skin disease prevents exposure to the sun, to a shining bulb, even to the benign glow of a Kindle screen. She covers up the slightest cracks of light with tin foil. What do people who pass her house on the street think of these ceaseless black-out blinds, she wonders. She doesn't find out.
She spends her evenings with her husband, who enters her box of darkness to listen to the radio and to make love. He looms large in her world, and one can feel her enthusiasm for him. Lyndsey, who before falling ill worked for the British government, finds she cannot listen to music alone because it stirs up too much despair. Her very skin is a prison. Yet, like many stories of enduring seemingly impossible circumstances, Lyndsey's poetic reflections on her life in the dark shed light on how valuable it is to be human, how beautiful it is to be alive.
Rather than a strictly chronological account, Girl in the Dark offers short, vital essays around various themes, such as dreams, word games, hats, autonomy, rain, her mother, physics and memory. In one titled "People," she writes, "For [guests] I put on my corset of cheerfulness, a solid serviceable garment. It holds in the bulgings and oozings of emotions, and soon I find they are, temporarily, stilled." The image of the corset of cheerfulness does not quickly leave the reader. Similarly thoughtful metaphors are planted like so many bright flowers on the fertile pages.
Through Lyndsey's remarkable storytelling, through the rightness of her words, her world comes alive. The book becomes so much larger than her darkened room. I cannot recommend it warmly enough.