Wildthorn - Jane Eagland
Author: Jane Eagland
Genre: Fiction (Young Adult/Historical)
Love/Hate?: Quite enjoyed it!
Did I finish?: Yes
One-sentence summary: Independent-minded young woman is punished for her aspirations and suffers cruelly at an asylum while she struggles to discover who committed her and why.
Why did I get this book?: Historical novel with a lovely cover. (Superficial, I know, but that's the truth.)
Challenges: Historical Fiction
Do you like the cover?: Very -- the corset imagery perfectly captures the era of the book and the crushing, restrictive feel of Louisa's experiences at Wildthorn!
First line from book: The carriage jolts and splashes along the rutted lanes flooded by the heavy November rains.
Did... I feel like I might be going a bit mad, along with Louisa?: YES. Like Dracula in Love, I found the historically accurate description of Wildthorn to be chilling.
Did... I totally melt over the unexpectedly sweet romance?: YES. It felt a bit like restitution for the suffering Louisa experienced.
Did... I find the ePub file provided by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to be nearly unreadable?: YES. I'm not including that in my rating, but I've mentioned in my review because it hindered my ability to enjoy reading this book.
Review: This is the kind of book that makes you feel as if you're a little mad yourself. In the best way. Told in four parts, the story opens with Louisa's arrival at Wildthorn, where she's committed under the name of Lucy. Her confusion is our confusion but through flashbacks, we slowly start to learn what might have lead to this horrible event.
The treachery surrounding Louisa's commitment is grim enough but I found Eagland's descriptions of life in the asylum and it's various 'wards' (levels of hell, in some ways) to be the most frightening part of the story. How she survives is a miracle -- and happily, the story doesn't end there. Louisa begins to repair herself and finds an unexpected and rather sweet romance. Eventually, the cause and agents of her commitment to are revealed -- and while the plot is nefarious, in some ways, it's very mundane, and again, the stark reality of what could happen to a young woman in Victorian England is what makes the story so chilling. A quick, enjoyable read.
Technical Review: I have a Sony eReader; I don't have vision problems. The default font size on this file was, frankly, microscopic. Had I purchased the file I would be very unhappy. Magnification didn't help: it went from joke big to ridiculous huge. As a result, I could only stand to read in small bursts which was particularly inconvenient considering the delicious tension Eagland created. I hope the version of this that goes on sale has better sizing.