Addition: Review e-book
Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove longs to break free from her respectable life as a Victorian doctor’s daughter. But her dreams become a nightmare when Louisa is sent to Wildthorn Hall: labelled a lunatic, deprived of her liberty and even her real name. As she unravels the betrayals that led to her incarceration, she realizes there are many kinds of prison. She must be honest with herself – and others – in order to be set free. And love may be the key…
This is a young adult, historical novel, and the first Jane Eagland novel I have read. I was fortunate to receive it to review from netGallery and I enjoyed it.
The protagonist is Louise Cosgrove, an intelligent girl who is more interested in science and medicine than she is to conforming to society and being seen as a “lady”. Her dream is to become to attend the London School of Medicine for Women and to become a doctor. She has the support of her father, but when he dies life changes for her. Her mother loses herself in grief and has to be tended too and her brother Tom is angry at Louisa and has given in the freedom London provides. Louisa is also struggling with her feelings for her cousin. She has discovered she doesn’t love men, she likes women, something that is not allowed in Victorian society so she has to keep these feelings hidden. Soon Louisa finds herself being shipped off to a family far away, but she never makes it there. Instead she is dropped of at Wildthorn, a lunatic asylum. There she loses her identity and is subject to horrid treatment. The more she tries to explain who she really is, the more they think she is mad. Everyone, that is, except Eliza, the helper who doesn’t like how people are treated. Soon they form a friendship and with Eliza’s help Louisa is able to piece together what happened, who betrayed her and why she is trapped at Wildthorn.
I found this a fairly quick read and certainly enjoyable. I sometimes think Eagland forgot she was writing about Victorian times, but other than that I thought the book was alright. The ending didn’t come as a huge shock. I was surprised by who orchestrated the betrayal but the reasons why and how the book then ended did not come as a surprise. This was a good read, I enjoyed it. I think Eagland described the asylum well, and it was certainly horrid! She writes the thoughts and preconceptions that the Victorian’s had well – that ladies should stay at home and only men could work.
I liked Louisa. I felt myself feeling sorry for her as the effects of Wildthorn started to take their toll and I liked that she was clever and ambitious. I found Eliza a nice read too – although their friendship did not come as a surprise. I liked Eliza’s family too. They were welcoming and caring and a lovely bunch of people to read about. I think Eagland wrote realistic characters for the majority. I’m not convinced Louisa’s Papa would have encouraged her pursuit of medicine quite so much, but the rest of the cast were believable. The women saw their role as at home being the wife and men saw themselves as better than women and the breadwinner.
This is not the best book I have read recently but I did enjoy it. This is a good young adult book, and it is nice to see that genre leaving vampires and werewolves alone and heading into history.
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Synopsis from Beautiful Books:
When human beings don’t talk about love, things go wrong.
If a mother had told her daughter that she loved her, they might not have spent years apart. If a man had found the courage to tell a woman that he loved her she might never have married another man. And if a father had told his daughter that he loved her when her mother died, she might not have suffered the breakdown that caused the rift with her own daughter.
But if you are born into a family that never talks about love, how do you learn to say the words?
SPEAKING of LOVE is a novel about what happens when people who love each other don’t say so. It deals passionately and honestly with human breakdown. And it tells of our need for stories and how stories can help make sense of the random nature of life.
This is Young’s first novel, and in my opinion it is a success. The book follows three people: Iris, Vivie and Matthew. Iris is Vivie’s mother and suffers from mental health issues and suffers a devastating break down. Vivie is only young when this happens and it emotionally scars to the point she feels like her life is collapsing around her. Matthew is a few years older than Vivie and they grew up as next door neighbours. Matthew is in love with Vivie but cannot tells her how he feels. In fact, none of them can voice their feelings; leading to heartbreak and separation. But in a special twist of fate, a storytelling event where Iris is speaking brings all of them together…will feelings be voiced and hurts mended?
This was a beautiful book. It took a little while to get going, and to be honest I did think about stopping reading it; however I am so glad I pushed on. As the story unfolds it is gripping and real. I would not class this as chick-lit or romance fiction because the main theme alongside love is mental health. Most of the consequences in the book arise from Iris’ illness and Young honestly explores the repercussion of being so ill and having a breakdown.
One aspect I really enjoyed was the fact Iris was a story teller. Not just that but some of her stories are published in the book, and they were lovely to read.
The book flits between Iris, Vivie and Matthew; and it flows easily between the three. Alongside that, they all slip into memories gracefully and this explains how they were feeling, recalls events that changed their lives and gives an insight into Iris’ illness.
This is not a fast read, however it is a wonderful book and I recommend it for everyone.
Published by: Beautiful Books
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This is a bookring that I joined and I am so glad I did
Set between the 1930s,and the present, Maggie O’Farrell’s new novel is the story of Esme, a woman edited out of her family’s history, and of the secrets that come to light when, sixty years later, she is released from care, and a young woman, Iris, discovers the great aunt she never knew she had. The mystery that unfolds is the heartbreaking tale of two sisters in colonial India and 1930s Edinburgh – of the loneliness that binds them together and the rivalries that drive them apart, and lead one of them to a shocking betrayal – but above all it is the story of Esme, a fiercely intelligent, unconventional young woman, and of the terrible price she is made to pay for her family’s unhappiness.
I read this book in a matter of hours, it was gripping, exciting and impossible to put down. This book caused a whole host of emotions as I read. I laughed and nearly cried at several parts of the book. My heart broke when I read what happened to Esme and I was disgusted and angry at her family.
My favourite characters where Iris and Esme, very similar characters I thought. I loved their passion and how they did as they pleased. Esme was so unconventional, not a typical 1930s girl and I admired her for taking a stand and being herself.
I enjoyed this book from page 1. The ending confused me a little but once I thought about it it made sense. It isn’t how I would have ended the book but I still liked it.
I have never read Maggie O’Farrell before but I will definitely read more of her work. She dealt with issues of mental health, family, society and love delicately and extremely well.
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