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.”
This heartfelt account highlights the struggle and frustration felt as you watch those you love being destroyed by mental illness. It’s easy to presume that having riches beyond your wildest dreams automatically means you have it all, but being blighted by mental illness is something many families, rich and poor alike, struggle to come to terms with. This memoir will not only leave the reader feeling positive and enlightened, but filled with enormous admiration for and gratitude towards Millicent Monks for sharing this unique story about her legendary family. This frank account highlights her own personal struggle and determination to survive against many odds.
Millicent Monks was born into the legendary Carnegie family, in which serious mental illness has affected four generations of women. Mental illness has played a prominent and overwhelming part in her life. Her search for answers led her to Jungian analysis, meditation and sutras, which have helped her to find a delicate peace amid the devastating mental illness in her family. She shares her story in the hopes that it will help other families.
“If I can do something worthwhile to help people with children who are mentally ill,” says Monks, “I would think that was something worth accomplishing in my life.”
” . . . a brilliant, hauntingly beautiful, melancholy memoir that is must reading for all who have been brushed by the wing of mental illness.”
— William S. Cohen, Former US Secretary of Defense and author of Love in Black and White
“Courageous and beautiful.”
— Ralph Nader
“Enthralling . . . is a testament to the importance of family love and of the saving power of a strong marriage.”
— Charles Handy, author of The Empty Raincoat
“Songs of Three Islands is a multi-layered weave of family memoir, myth and Jungian premonition that reads at times like a gothic novel.”
— The Guardian
“. . . lyrical memoir, which tells the physical journey of a family from one island to the next. It also explores, for the first time publicly, the thread of mental illness woven through the seemingly glittering tapestry.”
— The New York Times