Summary (from goodreads.com):
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: 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…
I requested Wildthorn because of the cover, which is absolutely gorgeous.
This book has four parts. (Five, if you count the epilogue.) Part One is very slow. It focuses on Louisa’s arrival to the asylum as she continues to have flashbacks to her childhood up until her arrival. Things pick up pace and get more interesting in Part Two and continue nicely into Parts Three and Four.
The book as a whole is just a little too modern. I found myself more interested in some of the other characters who were a bit more in-sync with the times. Louisa complains about not being allowed to do the same things men do, but fails to acknowledge how all women are oppressed in the same way and finds it shocking that she, a well-to-do young lady, is expected to marry, keep house, and have children. Fortunately, this does die down after Part One without her changing her ideology. Outside of Louisa, no one finds her being a lesbian strange or different. It’s one thing in these more enlightened times, but back in the sexually repressed Victorian era I find it hard to believe. The ending tends to wrap up just a little too neatly. The “good guys” receive exactly what they want and the “bad guys” are punished. However, this is a young adult book, so it’s to be expected.
I like the themes presented in this book. The ideas of women being able to work any job we want, it’s okay to fall in love no matter who it turns out to be, and patient rights. It felt as though there was a little too much being juggled at once. If any one of the themes had been removed, things would have flowed better, but I can understand why the author went the route she did. The epilogue was nice. I dreaded a completely unbelievable fairy-tale ending, but I was pleasantly surprised.
It does a nice job at presenting the issues of various human rights, but it wasn’t for me. Might be worth a look if you are curious about the mistreatment of patients in asylums during the Victorian era or interested in GLBT teen/young-adult romance.
Note: Despite being an “advanced reading copy”, this book was originally published in 2009, but was released in paperback September 2010.