In the midst of tragedy, how do we keep being compassionate and loving towards our family, and perhaps, the most important question to ask is how do families heal from these tragedies?
Mollie Bach's Paradise Lost tells the story of two heroines. Judith, a young artist who has fallen in love with Claude, a painter who is doing his doctorate on Vincent van Gogh and Annabel, a financial advisor to the NHS. Both are diverse characters but are brought together by fate, unaware of the ties that bind them together. As these ties strengthen, they found themselves trudging a path that leads to the exploration of the devastating effects of neglect and addiction but also the pleasures of art.
Paradise Lost is beautifully written, in a way that it discusses alcoholism from the perspective of the family surrounding the victim. It shows its inevitable consequences and the way it breaks a family apart as alcoholism is one of the most complex problems a family can face. It captures the despair and destruction that is brought by an illness that can prove to be a tedious amount of work to solve and highlights the struggles that families face when they are faced with such a tragedy.
With Bach's training and background in psychiatry, she draws her knowledge from the likes of renowned psychologists such as Sigmund Freud that makes this novel factful while artfully discussing psychological trauma and addiction. Sensitive topics such as suicide are discussed with Claude's character, the man Judith has fallen in love with. While some parts may look cliche, such as the retaliation of the child to the mother to compensate for the frustrations of the child, Bach's narrative and writing style will take the readers on a tedious journey of loving, understanding, sympathizing, despair and hope.
Bach does not also shy away from discussing the feats that one might face in the world of art. While some may categorize art as therapeutic, it can be equally frustrating to create art that is unique and encompassing other great masterpieces in the world. The subtle discussion of Vincent Van Gogh's descent to madness and how she connects it with Claude's frustration as an artist mirrors a struggle that every artist goes through, along with how their loved ones deal with the trauma of losing a loved one.
As characters come together, this story discusses and examines the relationships between people and the psyche that allows them to make these decisions. Additionally, it sparks a discussion in the reading community to be more aware of certain types of struggles that will push them to be kind, regardless of the situation. Bach's intention for this novel is to share the trauma of alcoholism and help people understand the perspective of her characters, specifically, the family experiencing it, therefore thrusting the readers into the middle of these complex relationships and giving them a glimpse of what it's like to be in Judith or Annabel's shoe.
Bach is a wonderful artist and hopes to heal wounds from traumatic pasts through her stories.