Can too much education drive a girl to the brink of insanity? Residents of Victorian England believed the answer to be yes. Bright, curious Louisa Cosgrove, who has very unladlylike aspirations to become a doctor, never thought that her studies could hurt her, yet she finds herself suddenly institutionalized at an asylum all the same. Following the death of her beloved father, the sole family member to encourage her intellectual pursuits, Louisa is sent away to a home for the mentally disturbed. Even worse—she is told upon arrival to Wildthorn Hall that her true name is actually Lucy Childs and that all of her memories are but the delusions of an overactive brain.
Louisa knows deep in her heart, though, that she is who she says she is and that she is perfectly sane. The more she insists upon her true identity, though, the more resistance she is given by the matrons and doctors who run Wildthorn and the more abuse and mistreatment she is forced to endure. Her situation is beginning to look very fraught indeed until help comes from an unlikely source. Good natured Eliza, a chambermaid who believes Louisa’s story, is determined to help her figure out the mystery surrounding her imprisonment at the asylum. Someway, somehow, the two girls are determined to find answers and, with any luck, a way out of the oppressive walls of Wildthorn. Meanwhile, Louisa’s head is filled with question after question. Why won’t anyone believe her story? Could one of her family members have signed her commitment papers? Did her beloved cousin Grace reveal the secret that Louisa is attracted to women? Might Eliza be Louisa’s salvation…and perhaps the object of her affection as well? Most importantly, though, will she ever be set free?
This novel, which casts a light upon the frightful treatment of mentally ill women during the 1800s, is full of suspenseful twists and turns, unraveling Louisa’s secrets one by one to reveal the truth of her situation. Readers will appreciate her bravery and will certainly root for her to get out safely and take life by the horns.
ISBN-10: 0547370172 / ASIN: B006TQX0ME
Recommended by Molly Crumbley, Librarian, Maryland USA, http://heyboobooks.tumblr.com