books I've read

Anne Hawn's books

Who Moved My Cheese?
If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans
Scientific Secrets for Self-Control
Just One Damned Thing After Another
The Vanishing
Exercises in Knitting
The Good Dream
The Very Best of Edgar Allan Poe
The Chosen
BT-Kids' Knits
Talking God
The Professor
The Christmas Files
The Finisher
Home Decor for 18-Inch Dolls: Create 10 Room Settings with Furniture and 15 Outfits with Accessories
Dracula and Other Stories
A New Song
All Quiet on the Western Front
File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents

Anne Hawn Smith's favorite books »

I'm reading 150 Books

Friday, September 24, 2010

Nutcracker - Money, Madness, Murder: A Family Album

Nutcracker - Money, Madness, Murder: A Family AlbumNutcracker - Money, Madness, Murder: A Family Album by Shana Alexander

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As I continue to explore the mind of the female sociopath this book provided an incredible multilayered example. I read the book years ago and it was so powerful, I remembered most of the story, but it was still fascinating. This time I tried to focus on the relationship of Berenice to her daughter, Frances. The story is about Frances Bradshaw Schreuder who contrives to get her son to murder her father. Aside from the sociopathy, there are other serious mental illnesses in this family of three generations.

Frances is clearly the most disturbed, but on this reading, I was more struck by the toxic relation between Frances and her mother, Berenice. At first, Berenice seems to be a good-hearted soul who is terribly abused by her daughter and bilked of hundreds of thousands of dollars. There is more than meets the eye. Berenice and Frances have a symbiotic and deeply pathological relationship. In the beginning chapter there is a description of the entire family standing around Frances' cradle singing to her all night long, night after night. Frances cries constantly and begins her life as the narcissistic center of this family and nothing changes through out her life. Berenice seems to demand that everyone in the family cater to Frances just to keep her from throwing a tantrum of epic proportions over the slightest thing.

I have to wonder at why Berenice turned her back on her husband and 3 other children in order to constantly placate Frances. The older daughters seemed sane and reasonable, but Berenice was always turned towards Frances. She allowed her to live a lavish lifestyle in New York and ended up paying for the legal defense of her grandson, Mark, and her daughter for the murder of her husband. That is almost more unbelievable than the fact that she focused all her love and attention on this one child to the detriment of everyone else in the family.

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