Nutcracker - 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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