In post-war London two girls are relieved to find husbands. One lands the 1950s dream of wealth and security. The other, Elaine, endures fourteen years married to a man with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. At first Elaine finds Gerald's activities curious but manageable. But he grows increasingly withdrawn, sometimes violent. The birth of their daughter heralds a complete breakdown and five years of silence, fear and despair. With startling honesty and great eloquence, Bass describes their poverty, her loneliness, her fears for her child, finding comfort in an affair with the village doctor and how the relationship finally ends. A Secret Madness is a remarkable personal evocation of an era.