HarperCollins Publishers Ltd|May 9, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-44341-829-4
A raw and ground breaking journey to the depths of addiction, from the author of ‘Our Daily Bread’, long-listed for the Giller Prize.
Colleen Kerrigan wakes up sick and bruised, with no clear memory of the night before. It’s Monday morning and she is late for work again. She’s shocked to see the near-empty vodka bottle on her kitchen counter. It was full at noon yesterday, surely she didn’t drink that much last night? As she struggles out the door, she fights the urge to have a sip just to take the edge off. But no, she’s not going to drink today.
But this is the day Colleen’s demons come for her. A very bad day spirals into night as a series of flashbacks take the reader through Colleen’s past moments of friendship and loss, fragments of peace and possibility. The single constant is the bottle, always close by, Colleen’s worst enemy and her only friend.
In this unforgettable work, acclaimed novelist Lauren B. Davis has created as searing, raw and powerful a portrayal of the chaos and pain of alcoholism as we have encountered in fiction. Told with compassion, insight and an irresistible gallows humour, The Empty Room takes us to the depths of addiction, only to find a revelation at its heart: the importance and grace of one person reaching out to another.
Colleen Kerrigan is a severe alcoholic. Her entire world is centered around booze and she gets herself absolutely plastered to the point of vomiting. She drinks mostly vodka but will imbibe in wine and other spirits as well.
Colleen worked at the university and kept bottles in the bottom drawer of her desk so she could grab a few “sips” throughout her work day. Due to her excessive drinking she was constantly late for work and lately had been forgetting to complete some of her job assignments as well.
She didn’t have a lot of friends but those she did have were not alcoholics like her. Colleen’s mother was still alive and living in an assisted care home. The relationship between Colleen and her mother was riddled with tension and mistrust. She grew up watching her parents drink so she came by it honestly. Her mother was constantly threatening suicide and spent a lot of time telling Colleen what a loser her father was.
The story takes place over one day of Colleen’ life – she wakes up on a Monday morning extremely sick, bruised, and with no memory of what took place the night before. As she stumbles around she is very surprised to see an almost empty vodka bottle on her kitchen counter and can’t believe she would drink that much in one night. She is going to be late for work again and as she gets ready she promises herself that she will NOT drink today.
However, little does Colleen know that today is the day that her life choices will finally catch up to her. As a very, very bad day spirals out of control and into the night, a series of flashbacks takes us through Colleen’s past. The one and only constant through it all is the booze, for it is truly her only friend and worst enemy.
The Empty Room is a gripping story and reads like a memoir. I would highly recommend this book for book clubs, it would make for some very interesting conversation considering what happens to one’s life when one chooses to allow an outside force to take over their entire life.