My Dark Decline by Diane Ezzard occupies the genre Biographical Fiction according to the book’s Amazon webpage. I’ll guess that some of the activities taking place while under the influence of alcohol were fictionalized for dramatic purpose. Maybe the activities cited were an aggregation of several confessions from treatment sessions. There is a lot of truth in this novel. I won’t dwell on the very strange and bizarre things an alcoholic does while under the influence or the way an alcoholic rationalizes them as logical in context. I have seen all the socially undesirable actions Sophie committed in her downward slide.
The desire for acceptance and being the life of the party later becomes being too lively at the party to the point of not being invited to future events. Workplace performance falls off, which contributes to stress. Drinking to relieve stress leads to workplace absence as Monday becomes a day devoted to recovery, not the first day of work. Paying bills means less money for alcohol, so there is no reason to keep paying the unimportant ones. Later, the important ones can also be sacrificed as more funds are diverted to alcohol. Finally, time for drinking becomes important. Why waste time taking a shower or brushing teeth when there is no intent to leave the house? Thank goodness for home delivery of alcohol.
At this point, one of three things will happen. 1)Death due to health complications is inevitable if ingestion of alcohol becomes the only food group the body takes in. 2) Some huge emotional event will occur that makes the alcoholic seek treatment. 3) An intervention will take place by either family, co-workers, or official agencies which will force the person into treatment. With this novel, Sophie knows she needs help and seeks financial help from her father, so it looks like a combination of 2) and 3).
Many readers will identify with the bad behavior of alcoholics, but there are many levels and expressions of such behavior. When it comes to treatment, such as when Sophie entered a treatment facility, there is a remarkable standardization of treatment and phases that a patient goes through. I found this part of the novel the most moving and easy to relate to. I am surprised no one mentioned the “pink cloud,” but that may be one of those British vs. American English terminology issues.
The most emotional part of the novel is when Sophie’s father makes a heartfelt statement to the group from which Sophie will “graduate.” As Sophie and all who have been in a similar situation know, there is no endpoint when someone is cured. Sophie’s experiences during treatment are quite familiar to me but are not a form of pleasant nostalgia. Before someone sends me a question; perhaps I was a patient at such a facility or perhaps I was a counselor/caregiver. From what I have read about Diane Ezzard’s follow-up books, that is the case with Sophie; she will go on to become a counselor.
For me, this was a moving five-star Amazon read, and I will go on to read further books by Ezzard. As good as I think Ezzard’s work is, it may not be for everyone, and other reviewers may not give it such a high rating. Realism determined the rating for me.