Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Review: Wildthorn - Jane Eagland

WildthornSeventeen-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: labeled 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 ...

Wildthorn is a beautifully written, engaging story set in the Victorian era when girls were expected only to become good wives. Any girls interested in books and learning is thought to be somewhat strange - a quote in the book summarises this perfectly:

"Excessive study, especially in one of the fair sex, often leads to insanity."

Louisa, the intelligent daughter of a doctor, dreams of nothing but following in her father's footsteps. Growing up she was more interested in reading and playing with her brother's marbles rather than the usual accepted activities for girls. One of the colleges in London has just started to accept women to train in medicine but generally, even to those in the medical profession, female doctors are taboo. The time period is an age where any one who doesn't comply to the norm, including women such as Lousia who don't aspire to get married - could qualify as 'insane' - enough to end up in an asylum.

On her way to visit the Woodville family, Louisa Cosgrove finds herself being admitted to such a place, Wildthorn Hall. Suddenly every one is calling her Lucy Childs and in time, Louisa doesn't know what to believe or who she really is. The author portrays this in such a way that even the reader is unsure. The story is told in sections, switching between the present at Wildthorn Hall and the past events that led up to her arriving there. At times you're unsure which is the truth, has Louisa been misidentified or is she really Lucy and her memories really in her imagination?

The other patients in Louisa's section of the asylum are generally women who in today's terms would be describe as maybe a little unusual or quirky at the most - most would probably be considered completely normal - but there are parts of Wildthorn Hall, with much worse patients. Typical of the time period, there is little or no treatment for those in need of it. These women are simply there to be kept away from society.

The style of the writing makes it so the reader really gets to know and understand Louisa and she's a really likeable character, who I could, in some ways, identify with. The descriptions and dialogue make you feel like you're right there with Louisa. The story moves at a good pace and I found myself continuing to read even when I really should have been doing something else.

A definite recommended read for lovers of historical fiction, which would also be enjoyed by those looking simply for a good story .

Other reviews of this book:
Steph Su Reads
Reading Angel
A Chick Who Reads

Authors website:

Disqus for A Trillian Books


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