Their fabled wealth enabled them to amass great houses and even private islands, but it was a dynasty torn apart by a succession of tragedies: suicide, alcoholism, and extremities of mental illness were passed on from generation to generation.
For the women in the family, the consequences of this legacy have been painful. After a difficult childhood, the author’s daughter was diagnosed at the age of eighteen with what is now known as borderline personality disorder, a debilitating mental illness that was for the parents—in the words of the novelist Sebastian Faulks—”a public shame as well as private devastation.” Like all mothers of children afflicted with this condition, Monks suffered from guilt and self-recrimination as she struggled to heal a disease that had no cause but for which she was held responsible.
In the end, through the intervention of a wise Jungian therapist, meditation, and—most important of all—acceptance, the author achieves a self-insight that enables her and her daughter to arrive at a delicate peace. Songs of Three Islands powerfully demonstrates that we are not defined by our inheritance alone.
About the Author
Millicent Monks is a writer and artist. She is married to Robert Monks, the author of several books on corporate governance. They live on an island off the coast of Maine.