Book Review of Lie Down in Darkness

Lie Down in Darkness
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William Styron's first novel is often overlooked because "Sophie's Choice" is, without doubt, his flagship; however, his style in "Lie Down in Darkness" is as melancholy and forceful as it was in each of his subsequent novels. No reader can leave these pages unmoved by the depth of suffering, both self-imposed and due to other forces, of its principal characters. The family unit is rife with undercurrents and has no opportunity to become functional because the parents are so deeply involved with their own problems. I disliked Helen the most. Her passive aggressive martyrdom fueled her husband's neuroses and alcoholism until their relationship became Faulknerian in its dysfunction. Styron's well-known bouts of depression obviously inspired much of the insights into mental illness. The pain of these characters is palpable throughout the book.