Nancy C. (Overland Park,
A Box of Darkness: the Story of a Marriage
Sally Ryder Brady has written a book which is both confusing and very confused. It is confusing because even at the end the reader is not certain whether Mrs. Brady knew, on some level, that her husband Upton Brady was homosexual or not. It is confused because there is no pattern or continuity in her tale of woe. Mrs. Brady chose the low road and by doing so robbed herself of dignity and her children of a decent family life. However, in Mrs. Brady's defense, she followed her heart and made the best of a bad bargain.
Sandra E. (Bend, OR)
A Box of Darkness
This book is a love story - not only from the standpoint of a wife/mother of a couple who were beautiful and wealthy "golden children" of the Brahmin upper classes in that sparkling segment of 1930's America, but of fierce introspection and courageous change and transcendence.
It's the story of the maternal devotion of an impeccably educated and dynamic mother who creates a necessary parallel universe for herself and her four gifted children, whose safety she guards tenaciously from their larger-than-life father, himself pursued by compulsively destructive demons.
Before words like "codependence" and "enabling" and "enmeshment" and "emotional abandonment" were part of our everyday vocabulary, Sally Ryder Brady was leading a life in which her natural and very considerable resourcefulness equipped her to survive all the above, while projecting a montage of secure and happy family life which dazzled observers.
Her brilliant and handsome husband - who appears to have been the quintessential Renaissance Man - harbored dark secrets. Sally literally uncovered them after his death.
Her time of grieving not only the loss of her charismatic husband to death - but of the "dream" which their marriage had embodied in its external glamour to others - and to Sally - portrays an intensely courageous and personal journey and metamorphosis during which Sally "comes home to herself".
This book was written and published with uncommon bravery; it has beautiful prose and dialogue which captivates from page one. I would thoroughly recommend it for book groups. A favorite book for me of the past decade.
book lover (Newark, CA)
I didn't like this book at first. I felt the author was in denial. However, upon reflection I believe she beautifully described the many convolutions, denials, and complexities of a marriage, especially one that began in the 1960's when women's options were limited. Every time I read of alcoholism I am reminded of its destructive force on the lives of those it touches. I wish she had discussed what she did to protect her children. Are they happy adults or did they succumb to the multi-generational progression and become alcoholic themselves?
Marie A. (Warner, NH)
A BOX OF DARKNESS
A poignant, compelling memoir which allows the reader to revisit the ever haunting question: "Does one ever really know another person" along with the ever present human frailty of ignoring the truth about those whom we love until we are forced to face stark realities.
I commend the author for allowing her readers to eavesdrop into her complex, painful marriage and search for truths. This was a compelling yet difficult read.
Judith G. (Ewa Beach, HI)
Surprises and more surprises
Beginning with a 'forgotten' cache of ashes it was apparent how the book would end. But the in-between was fascinating reading. How a marriage of such long-standing could survive the secrets and trials...one can only wonder. Sally Brady walks a fine line interspersing poignancy and humor. I couldn't wait to finish the book.
Priscilla B. (Marietta, GA)
If you like Memoirs
You will enjoy A Box of Darkness. It is a well written story, the first half a bit better than the latter. It is a love story that began in 1956. It is not too "mushy" or painfully introspective.
I enjoyed the family photographs that were included. Although their lives were VERY different, her writing style reminded me of Jeanette Walls (The Glass Castle) and perhaps J.R. Moringer (The Tender Bar).
Barbara F. (Saint Louis, MO)
A Missed Opportunity
This book is a clear example of the carnage and delusion that surrounds alcoholism. Homosexual and indeed many forms of sexual acting out is very common when men or women are in the throes of active addiction. There are consequences for behavior and Sally missed her opportunity to give her husband the possibility to change by constantly enabling his loving relationship with the bottle and make no mistake he was having an affair with the bottle. She should have left, gotten help for herself and her family allowing him to understand that it was action that was needed not co-dependency.
The writing itself was good but she remained a victim to the end and it was tiresome for me. I only hope other women see this as an example of what not to do in these very circumstances.