The Crowded Bed

Published by Transita, January 2007

An absorbing expose of the guilty secrets hiding behind two seemingly ordinary lives

“Good evening, dear friend. I’m extremely pleased to see you, but I’m sure you’ll understand why I can’t give you my full attention. Joe Fortune is just about to kill his father-in-law and I’ve no intention of missing this long awaited event.”

This captivating book chronicles the lives of Jewish GP, Joe Fortune, and his wife Anna. From birth to the present day it exposes the impact their contrasting backgrounds have on them; as children, as lovers, and as husband and wife.  Joe – a working class Londoner, raised by an overpowering family, ambivalent about his Judaism, and seeking to escape its confines.  Anna – born into a wealthy and privileged family, but one that conceals many profound sins.

Page-turning, thought-provoking, and sensuous, The Crowded Bed is a fascinating exploration of dark secrets harboured within the mind, and the battle to be free of them. For the angry and resentful Joe, it’s his inner conflict with a profound secret he can never speak of, and for which he seeks revenge. For the quiet and dignified Anna, it’s the need to lay the ghosts of her troubled past, and come to terms with a tragic loss.

A gripping, well-crafted story of misunderstandings, revelations and murder, The Crowded Bed brings together religion, prejudice, shame and revenge. A provoking and surprisingly humorous read, but with a deep and intense love story at its core.


Sharon Goforth (Ex-Libris) Independent Blog Reviewer, Ohio, USA

This year it is especially difficult to choose which books I enjoyed the most, as there were so many books that were outstanding. But the following five topped them all, and are the ones that will stay with me a very long time:

By the Lake by John McGahern
The Crowded Bed by Mary Cavanagh
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax
An Ice-Cream War by William Boyd

The Crowded Bed is a gripping story. A jigsaw puzzle, assembled from vignettes that take place across time, culminating in murder. A story that will stay with me for a long time.


Kate Saunders – The Times – 17th March 2007

This funny and dramatic first novel about the darkest of family secrets begins with Joe Fortune, a charismatic Jewish doctor, killing his father-in-law. Joe has good reasons for wanting Gordon dead – better reasons than your average murderer. The sanity of his adored wife, Anna, a fragile Botticelli blonde, may depend on it. Meanwhile, Joe must decide exactly how Jewish he wants to be. It is a tall story, but is told so artfully that there are genuine surprises.


Sharon Stanley – Library reader from Ipswich, Suffolk

On Sunday morning I opened the book and I finished it at 19.15; I am going to buy it to read again in a month to taste again the texture of it.  I laughed; I cried; I sat stunned by the depth of treatment of many of humankind’s blackest deeds. I can honestly say that I rarely give up food for a book but today I did so. Is she a 21st century Susan Hill? I believe so. Thank you so much for publishing her and please send my thanks for a great read to Mary.


Tim and Simon, The Big Green Book Shop, Wood Green, London, N22

I started reading The Crowded Bed on Sunday, and to be honest I wasn’t sure if it was my kind of thing. But I was so wrong. This book is a belter. I was hooked and devoured it in 2 sittings. From the prologue, in which we watch Joe Fortune (our ‘hero’) murdering his father-in-law, we’re then transported back to Joe’s childhood. And there begins the story of how we get to his crime. The strength of the writer lies in her ability to take us from the past to the present and back again and still hold the story together so cleverly that you just have to know what happens next. I was both delighted to get to the end and sad that I’d finished it. This is going eye level on our Big Green Favourites bookcase from day 1.


The Jewish Chronicle
May 25th 2007

The Crowded Bed is a neatly told tale of intermarriage featuring A Jewish GP, his beautiful non-Jewish wife and her deep and dangerous father.


Miranda Stock, Oxford Daily Information

This is a riveting story beautifully told, and deserves whopping success.  I am very pleased to have found Mary Cavanagh, and I hope she writes lots more novels.


Mark Thornton – Mostly Books – Abingdon – Oxon

The Crowded Bed is a rare treat.  A gripping, page-turning story, combined with the finest prose writing. My tip as a huge success in 2007.


Elaine Simpson-Long  Independent Reviewer
The use of the time shifting device and the alternating narratives of Joe and Anna gradually draw the reader in and you become totally involved with both characters and care about their fate.  At one point I was fighting against the temptation to take a quick peek at the final pages to see how it all ended, but managed to resist and glad I did as the ending of this book packs quite a punch.


Lisa Guidarini– Chicago based Independent Book Reviewer

The Crowded Bed is deeply psychological, and often quite dark.  The mind is not simple territory, especially when such strong passions are at stake. Mary Cavanagh does a superb job venturing into the heart of all this turmoil, and she handles it all with an assured hand. This is a thoroughly impressive debut.



Having been warned by previous reviews that this was not the usual romance froth, I took it slowly and paid attention from the start. It was worth it. The structure is intricate but is made clear to the careful reader at the beginning, the story is spell-binding and the characters are so attractive I wanted to know what happened to all of them. I read it in one night.


Jane Karpa – The Bookstore – Abingdon – Oxon

It was an excellent read. Rarely do I finish a book and then want to read it again immediately, but I did with The Crowded Bed. CONGRATULATIONS