Songs of Three Islands is a stunning memoir about the wealthy Carnegie family's struggle with mental illness, combined with a beautifully evoked meditation on motherhood.
In describing five generations of mental instability in the female line of her family, Millicent Monks attempts to bring mental illness out of the shadows and comfort those who are suffering from thoughts and feelings they don't always understand.
In her own words, "People, they say, are divided into two kinds: those who have known inescapable sorrow and those who have not. Because sorrow cannot be changed, one's lifestyle and feelings must be changed to accommodate it."
I wanted to read this book because of my own struggles with depression, even though the book is about borderline personality disorder, an entirely different condition. I found it fascinating and disturbing at the same time. I couldn't stop reading, yet I felt so sad for the women affected by the illness. As the author struggled to deal with her daughter and to resolve feelings that she might have passed this illness on to her, I could really empathize with her. Her spiritual ways of coping and healing are not the same as mine, but that isn't a major part of the book.
Because of the themes and the writing style, this is not a light and fluffy read. The writing is rich and descriptive and the timeline not exactly linear, which made the reading require a bit more attention.
Links for more information and purchasing (these are not affiliate links):
- FSB Media page for Songs of Three Islands