Most reviewed: Mad, Bad and Sad

<p>Two Virago titles were the most reviewed books in last weekend&#39;s press (15th-17th February). In terms of space, Lisa Appignanesi&#39;s <em>Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800</em>, gets the most, yet it is Linda Grant&rsquo;s novel <em>The Clothes on their Backs</em> that gets the better critical reception.<br /> <br />Hanif Kureishi, writing the lead review in the <em>Financial Times</em>, writes how Appignanesi&#39;s &quot;magisterial new book&quot;, &quot;brilliantly shows us how, in terms of mental health, we are in danger of coming full circle&quot;, from the hysterical women exhibited by Freud&#39;s mentor Charcot, to those shown on reality TV shows. Woman is dangerous, adds Kureishi.<br /> <br />Appignanesi, according to Michele Roberts in the <em>Independent on Sunday</em> review, offers a &quot;revised and enriched history of the relationships between female patients and their male mind-doctors&quot;. The author argues that our current expectations to be &#39;better than well&#39; are turning women into &quot;Princesses of Crazy&quot;, or its handmaidens, finds Melanie McGrath in the <em>Sunday Telegraph</em>.<br /> <br />The history of &quot;mind doctors&quot; is also a study of the links between psychology and literature, adds Kureishi, from Anna Karenina to Madame Bovary: &quot;it is the women who cross the line and pay the price&quot;.<br /> <br />The novelist of <em>The Memory Man</em>, weakens her book by the &quot;laboured retelling of the stories of famous neurotics&quot;, writes the <em>Times</em>&#39;s Brenda Maddox, but the <em>IoS</em>&#39;s Roberts does not agree: &quot;Appignanesi&#39;s novelist self pops up, and helps her to create a narrative method mixing historical description with illuminating biographical anecdotes&quot;.<br /> <br />Linda Grant&#39;s novel <em>The Clothes on their Backs </em>is about the way clothes can offer a new beginning, even in the face of bereavement, writes Amanda Craig in the <em>Daily Telegraph</em>. &quot;This is a vivid, enjoyable and consistently unexpected novel&quot;. </p><p>Michael Arditti writes in the Independent that the novel &quot;is at one a beautifully detailed character study, a poignant family history and a richly evocative portrait of the late 1970s&quot;. A &quot;terrific novel&quot;, confirms Clare Colvin&#39;s <em>Mail on Sunday</em> review. &quot;The novel is above all a quiet masterclass in the perils of hypocrisy.&quot;</p><p><strong>Most reviewed (15th to 17th February)</strong> </p><p><em>Mad, Bad and Sad </em>by Lisa Appignanesi (Virago)<br />&quot;<a href=" target="_blank" title="Times">Weakened by the laboured retelling of the stories of famous neurotics</a>&quot; <em>Times</em><br />&quot;<a href="" target="_blank" title="FT">Essential for specialists</a>&quot; <em>Financial Times</em> <br />&quot;<a href=" target="_blank" title="Telegraph">Too clever to throw out loose accusations or plump for easy answers</a>&quot; <em>Sunday Telegraph</em><br /><a href=" target="_blank" title="IoS">&quot;Appignanesi&#39;s novelist self pops up, and helps her to create a narrative method mixing historical description with illuminating biographical anecdotes</a>&quot;<em> Independent on Sunday</em><br /><br /><em>The Clothes on their Backs</em> by Linda Grant (Virago)<br />&quot;<a href=" target="_blank" title="Telegraph">This is a vivid, enjoyable and consistently unexpected novel</a>&quot; <em>Daily Telegraph</em><br />&quot;<a href=" target="_blank" title="Independent">A joy to welcome such a vibrant and thought-provoking book</a>&quot; <em>Independent</em><br />&quot;Bursting with life and vivid characters&quot; <em>Mail on Sunday</em> <br />&quot;<a href=",,2257413,00.html" target="_blank" title="Observer">Wonderful, tightly written&quot;, fluid and addictive&quot;</a> <em>Observer</em><br /><br /><em>My Favourite Wife </em>by Tony Parsons (HarperCollins)<br />&quot;A major achievement&quot; <em>Mirror</em><br />&quot;<a href=" title="Times">Parsons knows how to make a page turn</a>&quot; <em>Times</em><br />&quot;Parsons&#39; novel has a credible story&quot; <em>Mail on Sunday</em><br />&quot;<a href=" target="_blank" title="Telegraph">An awful humourlessness in the writing</a>&quot; <em>Sunday Telegraph</em><br /><br /><em>How Fiction Works</em> by James Wood (Cape)<br />&quot;<a href="" target="_blank" title="FT">Should find a place on every novel-lover&#39;s shelf</a>&quot; <em>Financial Times</em><br />&quot;<a href=",,2257037,00.html" target="_blank" title="Guardian">His own style is more eccentric than ever in this book</a>&quot; <em>Guardian</em><br />&quot;Woods shows how the critical mind ought to work&quot; <em>Observer</em> </p>