Girl in the Dark – review

 Girl in the darkGirl in the dark by Anna Lyndsey  What’s the worst thing you could be allergic to? Pets? Peanuts? Pollen? You would need to change your lifestyle but there can’t be many allergies more disruptive than a severe aversion to light. The cover is a clue to this extraordinary story.

Anna Lyndsey was living a normal life. She enjoyed her job; she was ambitious; she was falling in love. Then the unthinkable happened. It began with a burning sensation on her face when she was exposed to computer screens and fluorescent lighting. Then the burning spread and the problematic light sources proliferated. Now her extreme sensitivity to light in all forms means she must spend much of her life in total darkness. This is the astonishing and uplifting account of Anna’s descent into the depths of her extraordinary illness.

She became a prisoner of her own skin, the only thing she could do was to black out her bedroom completely and retreat into the darkness. The book tells the story of how reading a book, preparing a meal or leaving the house became impossible. How  she finds audio books and listening to the “trivial earnestness” of Radio 4, a lifeline and how music is a no-go. When heard in solitary darkness, she says, it “becomes devastating in its power … only a few bars are necessary to dissolve my careful stoicism into wild tears”.