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Ever wondered about the bag lady's story?,
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This review is from: Who Was Sophie?: The Two Lives of My Grandmother - Poet and Stranger (Paperback)
As a people-watcher or mental health or social care professional, have you wondered what is the true story behind the bag lady? This is the story of a woman who ended her days as a bag lady in Nottingham, a woman who suffered from schizophrenia, and the story of her ealier life as a wife and mother, a child prodigy, poet and protege of Virginia Woolf. It's really a story of two halves, the early life as a child and young woman with enormous potential, with the war intervening and a post war story of disintegration into serious mental health problems. It is written by her grand-daughter as a family historian and at times the writing is uneven (hence only four stars) but it's a fascinating story. I was recommended this book by a friend who also works in mental health and was half expecting a damning indictment of the mental health system, but whilst it has its criticisms of how we treat the mentally ill and some reflections on the changes in the system over the time that Sophie / Joan was treated there are also some touches of affection for those individuals within the system whose lives were touched by her. Touching and sad at times, it is perhaps a good explanation of how one family was devastated by the illness, and of the lost potential of a promising writer and poet. Not all bag ladies have such a story, I'm sure, but they all have a story, and this book reminds us of that.