The Scent of Dried Roses, by Tim Lott

I ordered this (and another audiobook by Lott) from the library after reading and being impressed by The Love Secrets of Don Juan. It's an autobiographical account of his attempt to find the reasons for his mother's suicide, which took place after Lott himself recovered from a depression that she had helped nurse him through. Not a lot of laughs in this book.

There's a lot in the book about the Lott's family history, including accounts of other family members who suffered from depression of one kind or another. But the overriding theme is the way that his parents' world, a world of absolutes and certainties, of community and togetherness, disappeared, to be replaced by the dynamic and individualistic society of the late '80s. While Lott himself benefits from the social changes - he makes a lot of money running his own business - his parents, who grew up in the post-war years, are portrayed as feeling disconnected from the society they find themselves living in.

The latter part of the book is reminiscent of the autobiographical stuff in The Noonday Demon, with Lott describing the symptoms of his own depression, his thoughts about the condition, and how the medical profession deals with it. He also comes to a similar conclusion to Solomon, in that he comes to believe that drugs are an acceptable way of dealing with it. Initially he resists the suggestion of anti-depressants though, because he feels that to take them "is, I think in some strange way, cheating, second rate. To take them is to lose, although I am not quite sure what the game is, or how it can be that I have not already lost."

This was a good book, but quite different from Love Secrets..., and so I'd judge it more of a worthwhile read than an enjoyable one.

Completed : 01-Jun-2004

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