I Thought There Would be Cake by Katharine Welby-Roberts
This is rather a brave book. It takes courage to offer the kind of transparency with which Katherine Welby-Roberts writes about her inner vulnerability and turmoil. Rather than turning into one long party, adult life has meant daily negotiation with depression, anxiety and chronic fatigue syndrome. Katherine has been blogging about her perspectives for several years and I found that a glance at her blog helped to put the book into context. In ‘I thought there would be cake’, Katherine’s style is open and conversational, she could be sitting down with the reader over a cup of tea. She describes with honesty and considerable insight how the convoluted processes of her thinking and emotions disrupt her self-confidence and sense of worth. Katherine speaks from a place of dissonance between what she knows and trusts as a Christian, and the inner doubts and questions which assail her relentlessly. Sheer physical exhaustion compounds the uphill task of loving and living with herself, her husband and baby son and her friends.
Katherine offers lots of examples from her daily life of the many ways she has lived with the dialogue inside her, as self-doubt, comparison with others, and the agonies of what others may think, rage within her. Yet in sharing these struggles, she speaks with humour and with an absence of self-indulgence or sanctimonious piety. Ironically, perhaps, to write in this way requires exactly the kind of self-acceptance she finds so elusive.
Who is this book for? Being so accessible, anyone who identifies with Katherine’s particular version of inner quicksand will find a friend here. Others, who find the account of such internal chaos mystifying, might do well to listen. Katherine invites us into her world, and her words offer an implicit challenge. How might we respond to those, including our very own inner selves, who bear the illogicality, yet bitter reality, of inner torment? The invitation is to live with honesty, hope and a capacity for generous humour.
Reviewed by Julia Mourant, Scholar in Residence at Sarum College
I Thought There Would be Cake is just £6.99 until October 31st 2017 (RRP £7.99), available from our online shop + £2.50 postage, or mail order by phoning 01722 326899 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.