Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Louisa Cosgrove is in for a surprise when she finds herself at the doors of Wildthorn Hall (an institution for the mentally ill) instead of at the home of the Woodvilles, who are friends of the family. Not only is she at a loss as to why she is there but she is also told that due to her madness she does not even know her true name. For she is not Louisa Cosgrove but a Lucy Childs. No matter how hard she tries to convince them that they are mistaken and have the wrong person, the more convinced they become that she has lost her senses.

Through flashbacks we get a look at Louisa's life. She is a strong, stubborn and independent young woman who will not conform to what is expected of a young lady of her station. Instead she wants to follow in her father's footsteps even though being a female doctor is not proper. The mystery as to why she ends up in the asylum is slowly unraveled throughout the story. We get intimate details of her life growing up, her family, and her trials and tribulations. When you aren't reading about her past, you are in her present and that is locked up within Wildthorn's walls. Imagine being locked up in a Victorian era mental asylum - can only be described as horrendous and/or atrocious.

I truly liked the suspense - at first you don't even know whether she is Louisa or Lucy. Although she seems to be perfectly sane from her thoughts, you can't help but wonder. The poor circumstances in which she finds herself in (which I'm sure were very true for many women in that time) were bleak and at more than one point I find myself frustrated and at the brink of tears over how exasperating it all was. To not be able to defend or explain yourself for the sheer fact that they thought you were even crazier than anticipated and placed under even more strict and dire straits... it gave me the chills. I found the descriptions we get of the asylum to be very credible - although I'm sure they were far worse in real life.

Call me wishy-washy, but my favorite part was the love story. It was unexpected and quite lovely. I do want to forewarn, there is a romance between two young women. It was not detailed nor disturbing in any way, but I did want to mention it since it is a YA book. In fact, her homosexuality is so vaguely described, that it might even be overlooked by younger readers.

I really enjoyed reading Wildthorn. I liked learning more about the time frame and it gave a credible (and sad) look into what some young women had to go through back then. Overall, I was very happy with it, it kept me at the edge of my seat with its twists and turns and dark subject. My only complaint would be that the ending felt a bit rushed, but definitely not something that should deter you from reading it. A solid 4 stars.

This e-book was provided for review by Netgally.


Tales of Whimsy said...

Awesome review!

brizmus said...

ohmygod, this sounds intense. great review!

Michele said...

Dang, just sold a book for this author, LOL. I must have it. Not only am I addicted to anything involving asylums, but the storyline sounds fabulous.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Great review! It sounds like it would be right up my alley!

Jennifer said...

Definitely sounds like an interesting book. I have studied a little bit about the subject matter and have read other books that detail the overall treatment of women in that time period, so heartbraking to think that women were held back simply because they were women!

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