Book Reviews

Book Review: The memory Palace.

This heartrending book by a family member who went through a tumultuous time deserves the attention of all, and more so, those who have family members suffering from mental illness. And those lucky enough not to be in such precarious situations should read it, because tragedies of this nature can happen to anyone and anywhere.

This is a riveting, spellbinding, deeply moving read.

It opens with a homeless woman sitting on a window ledge contemplating suicide. The woman was Norma Herr was once a healthy, vibrant, brilliant piano protégé with two daughters when her memory starts to deteriorate. Mira Bartok, the author, and one of the daughters, takes the reader to Florence, where she worked illegally of art dealers. In these pages she briefly deplores how the shady world of art dealers generate “fake art” and pass it on to unsuspecting tourists and occasionally to locals.

Then she goes to Israel with a project to educate Israeli and Palestinian children in one class. This project was a failure and explains how Israelis think about male and female relations.

Mira Bartok then returns home and has an unfortunate accident that changes her life drastically, while still dealing, albeit remotely, with her mother in and out hospitals and “residences”.

She writes about mentally ill people who suffer due to neglect of the “health system”.

Mira Bartok’s narrative is sad, poignant, written in a fast-paced style and utterly captivating, forcing the reader to turn page after page to learn what happen next.

She is a powerful, articulate, insightful writer, and painter.

One of her paintings graces the beginning of each chapter, which add a special meaning to what she describes in it.

Read this book; think about mental illness that can befall you, but especially schizophrenia and how society deals with people who suffer from this debilitating disease.

A powerful book that should be read and analysed by everyone.