In seeking an alternative to the headlines, Rausing offers thoughtfulness and introspection. She also provides a lot of self-flagellation ... But what gives this book its astonishing power is not the guilt, but the intelligence and literary skill. As a narrative, it’s beautifully structured, weaving its way from the family’s childhood holidays in rural Sweden to their lives in London, returning always to the hideous image of Hans and Eva’s bedroom as the dark centre of the story ... She appears in these contradictions still not to have decided the extent of her responsibility or guilt. However, she seems at least partially aware of this, and what makes the approach effective is that when it comes to opening up wider questions of culpability or the nature of addiction, she is consistently more subtle than we would expect in a memoir of this kind.
Rausing's core message is this: Addiction is a family affair. Her book embraces those surrounding the addict by courageously exposing her own self-doubt and heartache ... Rausing's narrative is delivered in disjointed, non-sequential fragments. Single sentence paragraphs complete sections for emphasis; hers is a jagged presentation that seems intended to mirror addiction's mayhem ... Rausing places her experience within a broader context. She considers Amy Winehouse, she cites Patty Hearst. She highlights America's opioid blight to remind us that addiction is not solely a family affair, it's a societal pathology.
The memoir, at once elliptical, cerebral and peppered with literary allusions, sometimes lacks the visceral edge inevitable in an observer locked out of the couple’s drug den. Ms. Rausing describes how Eva and Hans would spend days in their mansion getting high, Eva reduced to skin and bones. She fantasizes about kidnapping and saving her brother. She never does ... By the end of the memoir, one cannot help but feel empathy for Ms. Rausing’s attempt to take ownership of a narrative hijacked by lurid tabloid newspapers, even as her wealthy upbringing taught her to be silent and discreet. In that we can, perhaps, feel the ghost of Eva Rausing prodding her along. After all, she notes, 'Someone died, early one morning or late one night.'