Sunday, November 14, 2010

Book Review: Wildthorn

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...

--From Goodreads

Cover Inspection: Absolutely gorgeous! The corset fits the mood of the book perfectly.

First Thoughts:
Louisa seems so bored with her life. I forgot how strict the rules for women were.


My Review:
Louisa has always dreamed of being a doctor like her father. Unfortunately for her, she lives in a time when women are expected to be nothing more than well-dressed and well-mannered hostesses. Her pursuit of a higher education is deemed unfitting, and Louisa's outbursts cause those around her to bristle. Why won't she just conform? Obviously she must be mad.

Wildthorn brings to light the reality of this Victorian time period that is so often romanticized. Eagland's research and attention to details really shine through. She is not afraid to address the heinous conditions that mental patients were put through during this time, or the hardships that women were put through in the name of being "respectable". No schooling for women, whalebone corset, marriages of convenience; it's all addressed in this historically based novel. It was this setting that really brought this story to life.

The story is mainly told in present tense, with flashbacks to the past interspersed through the scenes where Louisa is committed. As our narrator, she walks us through her rebellious past with fervor. What I loved about the change in tenses was that it allowed me, the reader, to slowly unravel Louisa's mysterious life. Little clues are given about what caused her to end up in the asylum. Watching young Louisa with her father made me love her as a character. It was clear why she grew up to be the amazing person she was.

On the downside, I did have a difficult time getting into this story at first. It wasn't a lack of interest in the storyline or the characters, but more that there was a lot of talking going on that wasn't progressing the plot. Also, I was a bit disappointed with the romance that was presented in this story. I am not against Louisa's choice at all. However I felt like if the synopsis insisted on focusing on the romance in the book, it should have been better developed. At the end I felt a little like Louisa wasn't being completely true to herself. Granted she has the stipulations of the time to deal with, but still. I felt like if she was so rebellious she could have found a way to be truly happy.

Overall I enjoyed Wildthorn! It was a pleasant surprise for me since I haven't read a historical fiction novel in quite some time. I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, as well as anyone who has an interest in finding out about the reality of Victorian England. Rebellion and intrigue. What more do you need?

Book Details
Title: Wildthorn
Author: Jane Eagland
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Pages: Paperback; 359
Source: Received through NetGalley
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Final Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
[+/-] Click to see rating.


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