After being hypnotized during a theatrical performance, modern yet repressed Olivia begins to take interest in the women’s suffrage movement.
Just as her interest grows, her darkly conniving father, a dentist, becomes increasingly determined to keep her in what he has decided is her proper place—in the home. He hires the hypnotist, attractive young Henri, to give her a posthypnotic command: She will “see the world the way it truly is,” and when angry, she will only be able to respond by saying, “All is well”—a recipe for disaster. Kindly Henri is drawn into the scheme solely because he is trying to raise money for his younger sister’s needed surgery, of course. After the hypnosis, Olivia sees her father—vividly—for the monster he is, sees demoralized women fading into transparency and realizes the young man courting her is also a fiend. Although the romantic elements are predictable and the hypnosis component is overplayed, the early-1900s era is nicely portrayed, and the societal limits placed on Olivia are both daunting and realistic. A really malevolent dentist is amply creepy, and Olivia’s father’s threat believably pervades the tale, maximizing the suspense as she and Henri devise a plan to thwart his efforts.
A smattering of period photos adds authenticity to this gripping, atmospheric story of mind control and self-determination. (Historical fiction. 11-16)