Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Man Who Walked Away

Title: The Man Who Walked Away
Author:  Maud Casey
Publication Information:  Bloomsbury USA. 2014. 240 pages.

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite Quote:  "Home is never more home when he is leaving, and he is always leaving, tugged like a balloon into the air."

The Man Who Walked Away is loosely based on the life of Jean-Albert Dadas, who lived in nineteenth century France. He suffered from an illness now known as dromomania - an uncontrollable urge to wander. He would repeatedly set out from his home on foot and find himself in cities far away before he regained conscious thought.

In this book, we meet Albert, the wanderer. We also meet Doctor, who is not named yet is a specific person. He works at an asylum and attempts to diagnose and help Albert. As such, the book takes us to a point in history when the identification and treatment of mental illness was just beginning. Albert's story is put in the context of the stories of the other asylum patients and in the context of the Doctor's own story.

That struggle to define Albert's life and the lives of his other patients is what occupies Doctor. Albert struggles to understand his illness and just cope. Interestingly, I find Albert and Doctor to be similar on many levels. Doctor attempts to help Albert put his life together, and Doctor himself struggles with things in his own past. The book leaves many of these issues unresolved, as is understandable when dealing with mental illness. There are no easy answers. Sometimes, there are no answers at all.

The book is about a curious piece of history that I was unfamiliar. The book is just a little too abstract for my taste. Most of it seems to be the musings of two minds - Doctor and Albert - somewhat untethered like Albert himself. I find myself reading the book from an academic interest and as a curiosity without really getting involved in the story.

No comments:

Post a Comment