WILDTHORN by Jane Eagland

WILDTHORN

Age Range: 12 - 14

KIRKUS REVIEW

Nineteenth-century tomboy Louisa Cosgrove wants to study medicine, but after her indulgent father's death, that dream seems impossibly distant. Her mother dispatches her to family friends, but Louisa never arrives. Instead, she is taken to Wildthorn Hall, an insane asylum. The staff insist her name is Lucy Childs, and her treatment ranges from the relatively benign (tranquilizers) to the horrific (sensory deprivation). The mystery of Louisa's incarceration is revealed through alternating chapters of her present and childhood: Like many of her fellow "patients," Louisa's been committed for being a troublesome woman. Luckily, her family doesn't know of those tendencies that would make her utterly irredeemable--her overly fond feelings for her beautiful cousin Grace. Unlike many of the other inmates, who seem to develop mental illness from the cruelty of their surroundings, Louisa is determined to escape, perhaps with the help of a lovely asylum employee, Eliza. Despite a too-pat ending, Louisa and Eliza provide a window into a shameful history of mental health care and women's incarceration that only ended in living memory. (Historical fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-547-37017-0
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2010




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