Finding Al-Anon Lessons in Classic Novels — 399

I noticed how different people in the story respond to the drinking in different ways. It leapt off the page to me, not only because I recognized stories that I could have heard in the rooms, but also my own perception of their reactions. – Frances

Step into the pages of classic literature and discover a hidden world of connection and understanding. In this podcast episode, we explore the what Frances uncovers as she dives into the timeless tales of ‘Adam Bede' and ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn'. As she delves deeper into these stories, she realizes they hold a mirror to her own experiences in the Al-Anon community. The characters' struggles with problem drinking resonate with her on a profound level, unveiling a new layer of relatability and guidance. This episode promises to leave you eager to explore the unexpected connections between literary gems and your own journey.

Frances was searching for solace during the lockdown, finding comfort in the pages of classic literature. She dove into the world of Little Women, among others, but it was two particular stories that painted a vivid picture for her – Adam Bede by George Eliot and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. The familiar theme of problem drinking among key characters leapt off the page, stirring within her a deep-seated recognition from her own experiences.

Her perception had shifted since her involvement with Al-Anon. She no longer saw the characters' reactions to substance abuse as simply plot points, but as tangible, relatable experiences. She saw the anger, resentment, martyrdom and enabling, all familiar from her own life and from the stories she'd heard in the meeting rooms. It was fascinating to see such parallels in these classic tales, highlighting that the struggle with addiction and the impact on loved ones is not a new societal issue, but one that has echoed throughout time.

Readings and Links

We read from How Al-Anon Works, pp. 35-36 (“Opening Up”), and p. 85 about forgiveness and compassion.

Frances also mentioned a reading from Courage to Change, May 1, which had the phrase “If only _____ would happen…”

The books we discussed are available from many sources, including your public library. If you wish to purchase copies, here are links to buy them on Amazon. (Note: The Recovery Show receives a small commission for qualified sales from these links.)

Adam Bede by George Eliot.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

What's next?

Coming up is our 400th episode. Eric suggested the topic of milestones for that “milestone” episode. What can you identify as significant events or turning points in your travels on the road to recovery? Have you experienced such things as a breakthrough, or an achievement like completion of a difficult task or step (like the 9th, or 12th…). Have you experienced a miracle, Higher Power or spiritual awakening moment?

Record a voice memo and email it to Send us an email. Or, call our voicemail at 734-707-8795.

Music from the Show

It seems there are 2 “official videos” for Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield. So I'm including both here.

Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten
Natash Bedingfield – Unwritten
Beyoncé – Irreplaceable
The Oh Hellos – Second Child, Restless Child

1 comment on “Finding Al-Anon Lessons in Classic Novels — 399

  1. Jule says:

    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. The main character is peak Alanon and therefor annoyed the hell out of me (being an Alanon myself) but I couldn’t put it down. I was shocked at how clearly the entire story was about addiction.

    I completely agreed with the podcast – seeing especially historic literature about addiction makes me feel less alone.

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