Heavy Light
Horatio Clare

Book cover image

Narrated By: Horatio Clare

Duration: 9 hours and 21 minutes

What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

Heavy Light is the story of a breakdown: a journey through mania, psychosis and treatment in a psychiatric hospital, and onwards to release, recovery and healing.

After a lifetime of ups and downs, Horatio Clare was committed to hospital under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act.

From hypomania in the Alps, to a complete breakdown and a locked ward in Wakefield, this is a gripping account of how the mind loses touch with reality, how we fall apart and how we can be healed - or not - by treatment. A story of the wonder and intensity of the manic experience, as well as its peril and strangeness, it is shot through with the love, kindness, humour and care of those who deal with someone who becomes dangerously ill.

Partly a tribute to those who looked after Horatio, from family and friends to strangers and professionals, and partly an investigation into how we understand and treat acute crises of mental health, Heavy Light's beauty, power and compassion illuminate a fundamental part of human experience. It asks urgent questions about mental health that affect each and every one of us.

A 'Book to look out for in 2021' in the Observer

'An extraordinary book: deeply moving, darkly funny and hugely powerful' Robert Macfarlane

'One of the most brilliant travel writers of our day takes us us now to that most challenging country, severe mental illness; and does so with such wit, warmth, and humanity, that, better acquainted with its terrors, we may better face our own' Reverend Richard Coles

'A record of the bravest, most perilous, most intrepid journey that any human being can ever make. It is stricken, moving, urgent, crucial . . . A luminous, beautiful achievement' Niall Griffiths

© Horatio Clare 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021


Memoirs, Coping with mental health issues, Care of people with mental health issues, Mental health services, Psychiatric and mental disorders, Reportage, journalism or collected columns, Popular medicine and health

Listen to a sample

A shattering journey . . . remarkable

Times Literary Supplement

Clare brilliantly describes his mania... But he has a wider purpose here. Following his discharge from hospital Clare sets out to explore alternatives to the lifetime of terrifyingly strong medication he has been prescribed


What a gift...having such an articulate agent, reporting back from the far edges of the mind

Sunday Times

Clare brilliantly describes his mania . . . The picture he paints is often grim, but there is hope too . . . Gradually, shakily, and with the help of a therapist, Clare rebuilds


Readers of Clare's game-changing memoir . . . will be struck by the fact that a mind so recently dominated by straight-to-DVD fantasies is now capable of reflecting on them with so much gentle wisdom and acute self-awareness. And in such beautiful, witty prose