Title: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Author: Ken Kesey
First Published: 1962
Tyrannical Nurse Ratched rules her ward in an Oregon State mental hospital with a strict and unbending routine, unopposed by her patients, who remain cowed by mind-numbing medication and the threat of electric shock therapy. But her regime is disrupted by the arrival of McMurphy – the swaggering, fun-loving trickster with a devilish grin who resolves to oppose her rules on behalf of his fellow inmates. His struggle is seen through the eyes of Chief Bromden, a seemingly mute half-Indian patient who understands McMurphy’s heroic attempt to do battle with the powers that keep them imprisoned. (From Goodreads, 21st August 2013)
‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ is the first modern classic I have read in the last two years, and I wish I had picked it up earlier! I had seen the film with Jack Nicholson a few times before I picked the book up, and like many book lovers I felt the book was much better – though the film is still fantastic!
As you can tell from the blurb, this is a novel set in a psychiatric hospital in America. We see the arrival of R. P. McMurphy onto the ward and the destruction he brings to Nurse Ratched’s ward. Nurse Ratched has control, she has always had control. She controls the patients, the staff, the doctors, everything. McMurphy however fights against her regime. Narrated by the Chief, a long-term, half-indian patient, we see the changes McMurphy brings to the ward, and the twisted response of Nurse Ratchet. I found that the novel presented Nurse Ratched in a more sinister way than the film, and felt a real hate for her whilst also recognising the patients fear.
This is a novel where the narration is fantastic. We see a troubled mind and the way the Chief see’s the world, the fog that controls time on the ward is fantastic imagery and way to present the heavy sedating drugs. There is humor, there is fear, there is power play, there is tragedy, there is imagery, there is everything. This is a novel where I copied down so many quotes, where I just fell in love with the writing style, and a novel that I will read again and find new aspects, and new view points.
A novel that everyone should read. A novel I wish I studied at school. A novel that I will read again and again and again. A novel which I can’t give a proper review of because there is so many things to talk about, so much to take account of, and just so much packed into the pages.
Go out and buy this book if you have not got it. If you have, read it now. If you have read it before, read it again.
5 out of 5