Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review - Wildthorn by Jane Eagland (4/5 stars)

I got a digital galley of this novel from  I am glad I did it was a very interesting read and I enjoyed it a lot.

Louisa Cosgrove is sent away from her family to serve as a Governess, but she doesn't arrive at their house.  Instead she finds herself arriving at Wildthorn an asylum for the mentally handicapped.  She is told her name is Lucy Childs and that she is mentally sick.  Louisa protests but the more she denies, the more the caretaker insists that her denial is proof of her illness.  Things start out okay in the First Galley of the house and Louisa tries her best to figure out why she was deposited in Wildthorn.  As she comes to realize there must be a plot against her she plans escape.  But can Louisa remember who she is and survive the treatments long enough to follow through on her escape?

This was a very engaging novel and very hard to put down.  You are constantly wondering at the mystery of how Louisa ended up at Wildthorn and whether or not she will escape.  The beginning of the book alternates between stories from her past and scenes about what is currently happening to her.  From her past you learn that Louisa is a very intelligent girl that wants to follow in the footsteps of her doctor father.  Louisa is also very obstinate about following the traditional roles set forth by society.  As time goes on we find she has an extremely intense liking of her cousin Grace.

This novel was very well done.  It does an excellent job of showing the powerless position of women in the represented era.  The injustices that happen to the women at the asylum are horrible and disturbing (but appropriate for young adult readers).  The fact that Louisa's assertiveness and intelligence are withering away in this mental asylum is maddening at times.  Eagland does an excellent job of portraying the panic that Louisa feels upon being trapped in this horrible place.

Eagland doesn't stop at tackling the issue of women's rights but also tackles some politics around same sex relationships.  Most of the moral issues discussed deal with the powerlessness of women, but there is some about the scandalous nature of same sex relationships at the time.  It did bother me a little that Eagland turned Louisa into your typical woman right's stereotype...

Eagland's writing was very readable, at times I wished she would give a little bit more in depth description.  I also thought that her description of mental asylums was perhaps a bit too nice, but I don't know that for sure.  The book ends on a positive note and in a way that is really too good to be true.  Although a bit unrealistic, I did enjoy the happy ending.

Overall this was an enjoyable book that was easy to read.  It was interesting to read a historical fiction novel that tackled a different subject matter.  I would recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, mysteries, or just about any young adult.  It is very interesting and does a good job of portraying the troubles that faced women in that era.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Debut Author Challenge
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge
- GLBT Reading Challenge
- Summer Romance Reading Challenge

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