Relative Stranger (Paperback)
Piecing Together a Life Plagued by Madness
Canongate Us, 9781847671738, 335pp.
Publication Date: February 18, 2008
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Relative Stranger is the powerful, uncompromising memoir of Mary Loudon's search to understand the facts about the deeply troubling final years of her dead sister, Catherine. Mary, the youngest in a happy, upper-middle-class London family, had not seen Catherine for what would be the last twelve years of Catherine's life. After discovering that Catherine had been inhabiting the identity of a man called Stevie, Mary plunges into a postmortem investigation, interviewing doctors, nurses, social-services representatives, nuns, cafe owners, grocers, and ministers who knew Catherine. Loudon paints a portrait that lays bare the pain of schizophrenia as well as its vexing complexities. In the vein of Jeanette Walls's best-selling memoir, The Glass Castle, Relative Stranger is an honest account of how schizophrenia affected a promising young life while exploring the assumptions people make about mental illness and what it means to love, to lose, to die, and, above all, to belong.