This book comprises the author’s personal tale detailing her life journey throughout which she had to deal with the impact a family secret had upon her and the family as a whole. It is technically well written and right from the start we have a clear understanding of the author’s thoughts, emotions and opinions. It clearly shows how a secret can affect people, whether they know of its existence or not.
In the first half, well just over, the reader is given a detailed insight into the author’s history; upbringing, education, development, inner thoughts, questions and emotions. I understand, to make sense of the overall account, this was necessary however, to me, it primarily read as a series of facts. I did not ‘feel’ drawn in though the domestic (British) and world history backdrops are interesting. Readers of this review need to bear in mind reading is a subjective experience and therefore others may well disagree with this assessment of the first half.
Having set the background, the book changes tone and, for me at least, became far more interesting. This commences with a fuller description of the author’s mother’s life, motivations, values and social acceptances. Except for one or two instances near the end, I, from this point forward, felt drawn into, and part of, the tale. The descriptions of how the author herself as well as her relatives dealt with the situation are fresh and real. She really shows how differently people, even those related to each other, deal with the same situation. The author has also been very honest about her own condition; the secret, from her earliest days, had an insidious impact upon her leading eventually to serious depression.
Throughout the rest of the book Martha Ashwell draws upon her knowledge and experience of philosophy and counselling as well as her inherent faith and beliefs. She very generously shares her acquired insights and suggested techniques for dealing with depression and other aspects of mental health issues. These are not only very interesting in themselves but also have the added value of enlivening and making the author’s tale relevant to modern day readers. The book also depicts the challenges associated with a search for reconciliation.
As said, the author is very honest about her own condition, recording her depression, sense of insecurity and uncertainties regarding her life’s future. The reader is drawn along, sharing the sensations of concern and relief as and when circumstances change one way or the other.
In many ways this is a complex, yet personal, book. It certainly will not appeal to all readers. Nevertheless, I suggest those either suffering themselves, or seeking to help those who are suffering, with depression and its related conditions would find this an insightful and helpful read. It is not a manual or text book of solutions, but has many insights, suggestions and observations that could well assist. Be assured however, though it has these elements to it, this is primarily a personal and family tale.
It will be noted little has been said about the story itself. This is intentional; so as not to spoil it for potential readers.
Assessing an overall rating was not initially straight forward. The first part inclined me toward three stars (I believe most books really fall within this range) however, the change of tone and the considerable information contained in the second part merits four. Consequently, I give an overall four stars (4*).
The book is available in paperback and as an e-book.