Friday, December 27, 2013

Off The Shelf: Songs of Three Islands by Millicent Monks

Hope everyone is recovering well from the holiday rush. Today I have an interesting book relating to the legendary Carnegie family that I’d like to take off the shelf and talk to you about. 

It highlights a topic that once was not dealt with in the public eye – mental illness. Thankfully today more is known about the problem and people understand that it is a disease.

Songs of Three Islands
A Story of Mental Illness in an Iconic American Family
By Millicent Monks
Published by Prospecta Press 
Paperback: 264 pages
October 8, 2013; $18.95 US; 9781935212447

SONGS OF THREE ISLANDS is a striking look into the cover Songs of Three IslandsCarnegie’s struggle with mental illness combined with a charming induced reflection on motherhood. This heartfelt account highlights the struggles and frustrations felt by Millicent as she watched the slow destruction of her loved ones.

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." 

Here’s a brief description of this stunning memoir:

        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.
        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 Millicent, "I would think that was something worth accomplishing in my life."

Here are what others have to say about this fascinating story:

        " . . . 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

SONGS OF THREE ISLANDS is available at Amazon, Powell's Books, and Barnes and Noble.

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope I’ve enticed your reading taste buds a bit with this captivating memoir dealing with struggles and inspiration. Have you read any stories dealing with mental illness and how those involved handled it?


  1. Mason - What an interesting perspective Millicent Monks must have! It's such a good thing I think that we have more knowledge today than we ever did about mental illness and about how to treat it. I think far too many people's lives have been lost because they were ill before we knew enough about it to help them.

  2. This is something people need to be talking about. Mental illness is taboo and brushed under the carpet. Even our health care system (such as it is) more often than not won't cover mental health. This sounds like a good way to learn more about it from Millicent Monk's experiences.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.