Southern Vapors (CreateSpace) is an intriguing memoir by Lynn Garson that chronicles her life growing up on West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta’s wealthiest street. Raised by nursemaids, butlers and chauffeurs, her very social Jewish parents were often absent on long trips abroad, and spent much of their time at home making sure Lynn was reflecting the proper family image to the world at the expense of nurturing or intimacy. A sensitive, creative child, the emotional abandonment of Lynn’s childhood created deep, personal insecurities that finally became unleashed in her 40’s, and changed her world forever, culminating in her voluntary commitment to a mental institution.
Southern Vapors is not simply a memoir about lifestyle, family dysfunction and depression that often rings true in other memoirs from the rich and famous. It is Garson’s rare ability to capture painful, poignant snapshots of life that gives the reader total clarity and self-recognition, and her self-deprecating sense of humor that makes her story so real and appealing.
Lynn offers a glimpse of her early life as an heiress-in-waiting, living in the big white house that was more Tara than Tara itself, and chronicles her life from childhood through college, law school, marriage, children, careers, divorce and single parenthood. Once the owner of one of Atlanta’s most prestigious retail stores, it is this sense of style that pervades her book.
The descent from the dizzying heights of prosperity follow, ending in seven days locked in a low income mental institution and a number of weeks as an outpatient. The assortment of colorful characters at the hospital becomes the subject of a number of vignettes in the book, and Lynn’s eloquent description of their multiple eccentricities will have readers both laughing and crying. Struggling with her own depression, she details everything she tries in her quest for recovery – from traditional therapy to Native American shamanism – and all in between. She explores her relationship with each parent, unearthing long-held secrets, and finally achieves reconciliation with her mother and a tentative peace with her father, who is no longer living.
As evidenced by the rave reviews, this attention-grabbing read is difficult to put down. With total transparency, the author bares her soul with such compelling honesty, humor and aplomb that readers feel a connection – like a life-long friend sharing her deepest and darkest secrets with them. By the end of the book Lynn has her health back and almost a year under her belt as a practicing attorney in a prestigious firm, marking a triumphant ending to a remarkably inspiring story.
Lynn Garson graduated from Tulane University and has lived in Paris, New York and Hong Kong. She has three children and currently lives in Atlanta. She is an in-demand motivational speaker for topics including depression, eating disorders and/or addiction, family issues, and more. Southern Vapors is her first book and is currently being adapted for the stage.