All of my books have arrived in the mail. Woo! I can’t wait to crack into them!
I recently finished reading Wildthorn, by Jane Eagland. It was amazing! But, I will speak (write?) more of that in a minute. I just started Florence and Giles, by John Harding. It was so difficult to choose (from those above), but I wanted to go with something not so terribly close to Wildthorn, in terms of plot or story, as it would possibly all bleed together, and I haven’t had any breaks from reading. So, a different story will have to be the break. It is hard though, as I have obviously chosen a particular type of novel I am after for the comps. I might consider straying away for a wee while, after Florence and Giles — either a break entirely, or temporarily move on to another genre — before my brain implodes.
But firstly, I want to talk about Wildthorn.
I haven’t read a book so remarkably rich in detail, so powerful, and with a plot and story so gut-wrenchingly beautiful yet painful, in a very long time. It was full of twists — some I could see coming, though most I could not — scandals, secret and forbidden loves, betrayal (like, I-want-to-punch-that-person-in-the-face betrayal), as well as I-want-to-punch-that-person-in-the-face-again loss and sadness. I was also very fond of the language, style, and tone of the novel. And, the research that went into this book? The detail of the asylum, the “treatments”, the characterisation of the doctors and patients — just wow!
Much like my Eleanor, the heroine of Wildthorn, Louisa Cosgrove, craves a life off the path which has been already laid for her. Her desire to become a doctor is relentlessly and mercilessly crushed by external forces; namely her family, who does nothing but try and rid her of her unfeminine qualities, and her unfeminine dream.
Most of the book explores the consequences of a nineteenth-century woman choosing to defy the societal expectations of her sex. A vindictive plot against her stifles her dream, if only physically, for she is incarcerated in an asylum, Wildthorn Hall, for her crimes against not only her sex, but her family — an unruly woman, seeking a career reserved solely for men, would bring shame to the family.
Louisa is the kickarse heroine we need. She’s not going to go out and start beating up baddies, but her knowledge of the scientific world, for instance, makes me want to be just like her — I think contemporary women would absolutely idolise her. In fact, you could say, she’s just like Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: independent, intelligent, and is possessed by a desire to harness the dark arts. Well, not quite, but in the Victorian period, a woman’s fascination with such unrefined or masculine things, was just as sinful.
Eagland never stopped surprising me. I’d think I had something figured out, but then I’d be blown away with revelation after revelation.
For instance, Louisa was committed under the name Lucy Childs. Of course, I started off believing it to be some conspiracy. It’s absolutely something that could have happened in nineteenth-century England. Women were committed for all manner of absurd reasons, and it wasn’t difficult to make a woman seem crazy — a woman wanting to be anything other than what was expected of her, is enough for her to be deemed mad — so, I believed her to be honest about her identity, but then I was soon convinced that perhaps her incarceration really was done for her benefit. Perhaps whoever was responsible did really care for her well-being. Of course, I quickly dismissed that idea too, for surely they would have at least considered the rest cure to such a horrible alternative. Yet, the asylum is the ideal place to silence a person — a woman.
Once you delve deeper, you start to doubt yourself, and you start to fear that you would have been committed, had you lived in Victorian England.
This should be enough to scare you from ever attempting time travel.
Solving the puzzle of who was responsible for Louisa’s imprisonment had me devouring page after page. It was impossible to put this book down, save for sleep. And, I never stopped hoping for her to make it out of there alive. I wanted her to make it out, she had to. I wasn’t going to accept otherwise. Of course, I won’t divulge whether she did or not. You’ll have to find out yourself 😉
My only qualm is with the ending. It wasn’t satisfying for me, but as you know, I’m very particular about endings!
There are a lot of similarities between Wildthorn and Eleanor, which I am happy to see. I think Wildthorn will make a fantastic addition to my comps list for when I submit to agents and publishers.
Be sure to get yourself a copy, and tell your friends. Wildthorn is a must read!
I rate this book a Wuthering Heights.
10. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë
9. Wormwood: A Drama of Paris – Marie Corelli
8. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
7. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier
6. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
5. Fox in Socks – Dr. Seuss
4. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
3. The Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger
2. Dune – Frank Herbert
1. Fallen – Lauren Kate
0. 50 Shades of Grey – E. L. James
Read more about the scale here
I didn’t actually mean for this post to turn into a review like that, I just had a lot to say about the book. I probably have a lot more to say, but maybe I’ll save that until later.
What was I actually going to talk about? I can’t remember. You know what, fine. This can be a review post, haha!