The Painted Table by Suzanne Field is an intriguing look at mental illness in a family through three generations. The main character in the book is a table that was brought to the United States by a Norweigan ancestor of Saffee's family many generations earlier. The first part of the book traces Saffee's mother, Joann's descent into mental illness, sparked by a harrowing prairie fire when Joann was a young girl. After hiding under the table through that awful experience, Joann comes to associate it with the foreboding in her home and begins her life-long struggle with mental illness. The second portion of the book traces Saffee's struggle not to succumb to the illness that swallowed her mother.
This book was somewhat disturbing. It was a long way into the story before I started to get glimpses of the redemption that would come later. That said, it was a very interesting look inside a person's mind as she fell further and further away from the regular world and into one of her own creation. I definitely couldn't put it down and stayed up way too late reading in order to find out what happened to these tormented characters. The redemption that does eventually come seems overtly Christian without needing to be that blatant.
All in all, I enjoyed the book once it was over and I was no longer immersed in a mind that has broken with reality.
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