Behind A Glass Wall


SKU Paperback Category

110 in stock


The Anatomy of a Suicide
By Dorothy Schwarz


ISBN: 978-1-905610-20-4
Published: 2006
Pages: 348
Key Themes: suicide, depression, grief, mothers story, diaries


This book is the gripping and emotional portrayal of one young womans ultimately unsuccessful battle against chronic depression. Zoe, was Dorothys fourth daughter, born in new Delhi in 1972. When she threw herself under a train at the age of 27 in August 2000, Zoe was suffering from deep depression following a bout of mania. After her death Dorothy found her diaries, poems and other writings which she used to build her portrait. Dorothy wants to tell her daughters story both as a tribute to this beautiful and talented young woman, who succumbed to a terrible illness and also to chart the passage of grief for a family after suicide. Dorothy wants to help remove or lessen the stigma attached to mental illness. Zoe fought hard and long but lost the ultimate battle. Dorothy hopes that the honest account of her life may help other sufferers and their families. Zoe herself would have wanted that.

About the Author

Dorothy Schwarz was born in London in 1937. She married Walter Schwarz, a journalist, in 1956 and had six children. The family lived in many countries where Walter was stationed. Dorothy brought up the kids, taught a bit and wrote childrens books and short stories. She now lives and teaches creative writing part-time in Colchester. Her main hobby, now that the nest is empty, is a growing collection of parrots and parakeets. She and Walter have written two books on ecology together, Dorothy’s collection of short stories entitled Simple Stories about Women were published by Iron Press in 1998.

3 reviews for Behind A Glass Wall

  1. Nick Anon (verified owner)

    Reading Behind A Glass Wall made me realise that bipolar disorder is a real and devastating condition and that people who suffer from it are in real pain. Zoë was a beautiful, vibrant young woman who suffered this debilitating illness. The description of periods of depression interspersed with episodes of highly erratic, delusional behaviour really highlighted the difficulties faced by sufferer and loved ones alike. The description of the events in Morocco evoke empathy to the helplessness two loving parents feel when their daughter is acting irrationally and out of their control.

    Dorothy’s complete honesty shows remarkable bravery as she describes the life of her intelligent and amazing daughter, raising painful questions along the way: Did we miss vital clues of what was to come? Could we have done something to help? The answers to these remain open. Bipolar disorder is devastating illness and though it can be ‘treated’ to a certain extent, it cannot be cured making tragedies such as these even harder to grasp.

    It is a dreadfully sad story, but reading it DID bring Zoë to life for me. Despite the horrific events that she went through, I also found out what a vast and exciting life she experienced and the positive effect she had on so many people in spite of her illness. I recommend it to all.

  2. Marie Lebourgeois (verified owner)

    With a lot of emotions, this book is easy to read. I enjoyed to read it.

  3. I.A Clark (verified owner)

    The book is witty, adventurous, romantic, exciting, entertaining, howlingly funny at times, crushingly sad at others. It is brutally honest, both with the authoress herself and her subject, yet it manages to avoid being maudling or over-introspective. As a novel it would have no cause to be ashamed in the company of Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary. Though not its purpose, it makes a better romance than many I’ve read of that genre, with the added impact (like the tales told by the Black Rabbit of Inlé) of being utterly true.

    I must confess I anticipated a grief-fest – yet another “yiddishe momma” flagellating herself over a family catastrophe. I have to say I saw instead a crucifixion victim – discovering that there is no comfy position to adopt: one can only shift one’s weight from one point of agony to another. Thank God there are no public executions any more. To anyone contemplating suicide (as I have done) I know of no more compelling documentation of the dreadful effects it would have on those around me – even if I precede my act by smashing up the residual love others might still bear for me. To know this deters me powerfully from doing either. It makes it clear to me that the effect of suicide goes far beyond your immediate family. It appals your friends, your neighbours, your most distant acquaintances… it even appals your enemies.

    Why do we expose our wounds and those of others, even our nearest and dearest, to the public gaze? The writer hints at her children posing her that question. What valid social reasons can there be for documenting such personal and intimate pain to an extent that many would consider “obscenity”?

    Well, for two reasons, I think:

    (a) To give heart to those in comparable pain,
    (b) To expose the disgraceful situation in which such “obscenity” as happened to Zoë can take place.

    I mean our unkind, squalid, scornful provisions for mental care. Ones to shame a third world country, even the poorest. The writer describes an asylum in Marrakesh, to which Zoë had had to be taken by the “sapeurs-pompiers” – I must say it sounds better than some I’ve been in. I speak from knowledge: though never a “service user” myself, in my time I have been a mental nurse. I have also shepherded a spouse through not one but two episodes of deep depression. I cannot honestly say I did any of these things “well”.

    If this book saves just two people from destroying themselves and those around them (it has already saved one!) then it will have done its job. A monumentally good job too: the writer gives us a magnificent memorial to her daughter Zoë. But I hope, and expect, that it will go on to achieve far, far more than that.

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