Can you believe the cover of this book??? What's not to love?
I started Wildthorn by Jane Eagland and finished it in a matter of hours. Totally up my alley this book is. As soon as I saw the cover I thought, "I MUST have it!".
Louisa Cosgrove is the privileged daughter of a doctor in Victorian England. But instead of spending her time "visiting" with ladies and afternoon teas, she would much rather go on calls with her father, perform experiments, or go horseback riding... NOT side-saddle! So when she is sent to the country to be a companion to a young lady, Louisa is less than thrilled. Imagine her surprise when her carriage pulls up to Wildthorn Hall, an insane asylum for women. Louisa is sure that a tragic mistake has been made, especially when the doctor and matron insist that her name is really Lucy Childs.
Locked behind iron gates and doors, Louisa slowly feels her sanity slipping away and begins to doubt her own memories of who she really is. Desperate to escape the filth and secrets of what really goes on inside Wildthorn's wards, Louisa must hold herself together long enough to devise an escape plan.
I loved this book. Victorian England..... privilege, class.... totally dreamy! And the premise behind it... fabulous!
There were a few incidents in Wildthorn that I wasn't too sure about. I thought, "in that day and age, would that really have taken place?". But in the end, it really didn't matter. Eagland has said that she based the book on true stories she had read of "insane" women who were incarcerated in that manner in the nineteenth century.
I find this subject fascinating. And heartbreaking. When I think of things that women were considered insane for, I shudder. Take Louisa for example. When she is able to get a look at the papers in her file, she finds that one of the reasons she was locked up was for wanting to become a doctor instead of wanting to become a wife and mother. In those days women had a place in society. There was a certain "profile" they were supposed to fit. So when Louisa challenged that, she was seen as a misfit.
And you can clearly see throughout Wildthorn that once the women were locked away, it was sometimes hard for them to discern what was real and what was imagined. After being told for so long that they were insane, and being treated as sub-human, some of them started acting that way.
It's amazing to think that these atrocities really occurred, and relieving to see how far we've come in this world. As a people, as doctors, as professionals, and most importantly, as women. A real testament to the evolution of society and what is acceptable and what is not.
*****PARTIAL SPOILER ALERT: there is reference to homosexuality in Wildthorn. If that is offensive to you, this might not be your cup of tea. If you can tolerate that aspect of the story line, this is definitely worth the read.