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The Fragments of my Father Reviews

The Fragments of my Father by Sam Mills

The Fragments of my Father: A memoir of madness, love and being a carer

Sam Mills

4.00 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Fourth Estate Ltd
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 9 Jul 2020
ISBN: 9780008300586

In the vein of the Costa-winning Dadland, with the biographical elements of H is for Hawk and The Lonely City, The Fragments of my Father is a powerful and poignant memoir about parents and children, freedom and responsibility, madness and creativity and what it means to be a carer.

  • The BooksellerEditor's Choice
4 stars out of 5
Caroline Sanderson
3 Apr 2020

"alluring part memoir, part literary biography"

In this alluring part memoir, part literary biography, Mills deftly triangulates her own experience of caring for a mentally distressed father with stories of two other carers: Leonard Woolf, devoted husband to Virginia, and F Scott Fitzgerald, husband and ill-equipped carer to Zelda. While Mills doesn't shy away from the hardships and privations, she also provides a powerful and uplifting testament to the precious consolation that can come from caring for another person.


4 stars out of 5
Joanna Pocock
4 Jul 2020

"show(s) us there are many ways to move towards our unknowable futures via the stories of our past"

She also takes her readers on wonderful detours through the history of schizophrenia, Foucault’s ideas on madness, critiques of social care in an age of austerity, the vicissitude of her love affairs, the poems of Emily Dickinson, the trials of bereavement, while stopping to reflect on the letters and diaries of other carers, most notably Virginia Woolf’s husband Leonard, who declares himself ‘in service’ to Virginia. ‘It’s touching that Leonard’s adoration isn’t at all diminished by her illness,’ Mills writes. Scott Fitzgerald, on the other hand, dealt with his wife Zelda’s mental illness by relying on expensive sanatoriums, ‘affairs and alcohol’. Mills’s interweaving of stories, both historical and contemporary, displays the complexity of the bonds of familial and romantic love and how they can enrich one’s life and work if we allow them to.

4 stars out of 5
Kate Saunders
27 Jun 2020

"a courageous memoir about the challenges of caring for a father suffering from schizophrenia"

The Fragments of My Father is a brave and original book filled with all kinds of glittering fragments — personal, literary and political. Sam Mills writes YA novels, and her creative imagination never leaves her, even at her lowest, when she feels the responsibility is killing her. It is not a how-to manual, but a powerful exploration of loving and giving.