Following hard on the heels of her searing first book, Peach (2018), Emma Glass’s second novel is equally compulsive reading, this time an intense, authentic study of an experienced nurse in a paediatric unit for babies who are seriously, often terminally ill. Caring for their parents as well as the tiny patients sleeping in a maze of machines and tubes, Laura is exhausted by the emotional toll of the long hours, as her life at the hospital intrudes ever further into her off-duty hours, gradually destroying her relationship with her lover. Compulsively washing her hands until they are raw, haunted by strange dreams, she becomes obsessed with a strange figure who appears at the edge of her vision, but believes she can still, somehow, cope. The tension and sense of impending disaster build inexorably to her total burn-out and a devastating conclusion.
Giving voice to dedicated, overworked hospital staff, the novel is an extraordinarily timely reminder of the price nurses can pay for saving lives and easing the path of the dying. In sparing but utterly powerful prose, Emma Glass once again reveals her extraordinary gifts as one of our finest fiction writers.
'Blends gnawing tension and surging tenderness... Glass's battlefield prose calls to mind not a hospital soap but the literature of the trenches. This, though, is a trauma-generating war on death and despair fought for us in every city, every day'.
Boyd Tonkins, The Arts Desk
'What, Glass asks, do we expect from our caregivers, and how do we repay them for the burdens we lay on them? Rest and Be Thankful is almost absurdly pertinent, and with its devastating close, the answers seem stark: we ask far too much, and for some there is no replenishment'.
Hannah Ewens, The TLS