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Behind A Glass Wall
[Paperback]

£12.00

The book is witty, adventurous, romantic, exciting, entertaining, howlingly funny at times, crushingly sad at others. It is brutally honest, both with the authoress herself and her subject, yet it manages to avoid being maudling or over-introspective. As a novel it would have no cause to be ashamed in the company of Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary. Though not its purpose, it makes a better romance than many I've read of that genre, with the added impact (like the tales told by the Black Rabbit of Inlé) of being utterly true.

I must confess I anticipated a grief-fest - yet another "yiddishe momma" flagellating herself over a family catastrophe. I have to say I saw instead a crucifixion victim - discovering that there is no comfy position to adopt: one can only shift one's weight from one point of agony to another. Thank God there are no public executions any more. To anyone contemplating suicide (as I have done) I know of no more compelling documentation of the dreadful effects it would have on those around me - even if I precede my act by smashing up the residual love others might still bear for me. To know this deters me powerfully from doing either. It makes it clear to me that the effect of suicide goes far beyond your immediate family. It appals your friends, your neighbours, your most distant acquaintances... it even appals your enemies.

Why do we expose our wounds and those of others, even our nearest and dearest, to the public gaze? The writer hints at her children posing her that question. What valid social reasons can there be for documenting such personal and intimate pain to an extent that many would consider "obscenity"?

Well, for two reasons, I think:

(a) To give heart to those in comparable pain,
(b) To expose the disgraceful situation in which such "obscenity" as happened to Zoë can take place.

I mean our unkind, squalid, scornful provisions for mental care. Ones to shame a third world country, even the poorest. The writer describes an asylum in Marrakesh, to which Zoë had had to be taken by the "sapeurs-pompiers" - I must say it sounds better than some I've been in. I speak from knowledge: though never a "service user" myself, in my time I have been a mental nurse. I have also shepherded a spouse through not one but two episodes of deep depression. I cannot honestly say I did any of these things "well".

If this book saves just two people from destroying themselves and those around them (it has already saved one!) then it will have done its job. A monumentally good job too: the writer gives us a magnificent memorial to her daughter Zoë. But I hope, and expect, that it will go on to achieve far, far more than that.
Date Added: 05/22/2008 by I.A Clark