Author: Jane Eagland
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Page #: 350
Source: From my public library
"Louisa Cosgrove is Louisa Cosgrove - not Lucy Childs. Or, is she?
A horse-drawn carriage takes her to the wrong place: Wildthorn Hall, an asylum for the insane.
This must be a great misunderstanding. They strip her naked, of everything - undo her whalebone corset hook by hook. They take her identity. But she is still seventeen - still Louisa Cosgrove - isn't she?
To untangle the mysterious, wretched present, she remembers the past.
I wished I were a boy.
Locked away in the dingy bowels of the hall, she feels a fire burn inside her. She remembers her cousin. She remembers Pap.
I want to be a doctor.
She is determined to escape - and only love will set her free."
"The carriage jolts and splashes along the rutted lanes flooded by the heavy November rains. Through its grimy window, all I can see of the unfamiliar Essex countryside are bare hedgerows, the skeletons of trees, looming out of the morning mist."
I love me a good historical mystery. I honestly couldn't pass this one up when I found out it was about a girl who was tossed in an insane asylum and she's told she is someone else. What an amazingly creepy idea. Especially in a time when women aren't trusted with much to begin with. What would you do if no one believes you and you have no place to change anything?! I'd be freaked out.
One thing I really liked about the beginning of this book was the back and forth in time. You have her being checked into the asylum and her getting settled, then flashbacks to her childhood and what makes her who she is. It really helps to get that background to know the type of character you're dealing with. And it helped me decide that I love our main character, Louisa. She's a girl with ambition and goals beyond getting married and having children. Which is something unheard of during that time.
When you get deeper into the stories at the asylum, the book gets a lot more depressing and real. I almost forgot what time period we were talking about - the emotions and people were the main focus instead of life outside. That was an interesting switch for a historical fic, in my mind.
There was an interesting aspect to the book that I wasn't ready for. I'm not sure how much I want to say about it, but the ending is very focused on it. Perhaps I can just say it's about Louisa's relationships. It made sense within the story, but the ending was a bit more than I was expecting. I had a, "Wow. Okay then." moment while reading it.
This book is also a lot about family dynamic and their relationships. Because of her time in the asylum, you hear her thoughts about each of her family members - including her aunt, uncle, and cousin she is close with. I'd dare to say this book is more about family than anything else.
I absolutely recommend this one to people who are fans of historical fiction. The mystery part isn't hugely present, but you definitely spend a lot of time trying to figure out how she was put there and why. I think it will mostly be loved by girls - some guys, of course, but it's mainly about the plight of women during that time period. A great story that I will continue recommending.
Check out the author's website. I can't wait to see more from her! It looks like she's on a roll :).
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