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Publisher's Summary

A searingly powerful memoir about the impact of addiction on a family.

In the summer of 2012, a woman named Eva was found dead in the London townhouse she shared with her husband, Hans K. Rausing. The couple had struggled with drug addiction for years, often under the glare of tabloid headlines. Now, writing with singular clarity and restraint, Hans' sister, the editor and publisher Sigrid Rausing, tries to make sense of what happened.

In Mayhem, she asks the difficult questions those close to the world of addiction must face. "Who can help the addict, consumed by a shaming hunger, a need beyond control? There is no medicine: the drugs are the medicine. And who can help their families, so implicated in the self-destruction of the addict? Who can help when the very notion of 'help' becomes synonymous with an exercise of power; a familial police state; an end to freedom, in the addict's mind?"

An eloquent and timely attempt to understand the conundrum of addiction - and a memoir as devastating as it is riveting.

©2017 Sigrid Rausing (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A profoundly articulate and harrowing memoir of a family grappling with addiction. With love and tenderness, respect and reserve, Sigrid Rausing explores the evolution of her brother and sister-in-law's addiction and its effect on her entire family. Her deftly layered observations about how one can be both knowing and not knowing capture a parent's innate sense of a child's being in danger; one sibling's desperate attempts to save another; and a deeply private family who find themselves suddenly exposed. Ultimately, what Rausing finds is a way to tell her own story, including among objects from the past that remind her of what once was, or might have been. I was impressed and moved." (A. M. Homes)
"In this mesmerizing account of her brother's descent into addiction and her sister-in-law's untimely death, Sigrid Rausing explores sweeping questions about what it means to choose or refuse a moral life; what tragedy looks like when it is woven into privilege; and how we control or surrender to our perceived destinies. Written in elegiac, lyrical prose, Mayhem is deeply passionate in its impossible attempt to adduce a redeeming vitality from an agonizing chaos. This is a brave, elegant, inspired book." (Andrew Solomon)

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  • LK
  • Larchmont, NY
  • 09-07-17

Beautifully Written Book

This was a very easy and interesting book to listen to. Beautifully written.

As the sibling of an addict, I empathized with Sigrid and her family. If I were a child of Hans and Eva, I would be grateful for the understanding, care and mercy given to their parents hopefully on behalf of them. This is perhaps the most loving way for her to preserve what's positive for the children.

It seems to me that Sigrid should not have any guilt. She mentions feeling guilty several times. Addicts must take responsibility for their actions.

It helps me see others around me, on drugs and say, "I understand a little better why you..."

Thank you for sharing this story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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