- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Most Helpful Favorable Review
7 out of 10 people found this review helpful.
If you are looking for a book to read on the beach or just to wh
Iris is a soft spoken, but impulsive and determined woman. During the time of the Civil War, the women of the south were really under the control of their husbands, as were the slaves on their plantations, and, they too, were expected to be obedient and subservient to them. It was often the treatment of headstrong women, to be sent to lunatic asylums by their more powerful, cruel and arrogant husbands, in order to prevent them from embarrassing them, or themselves, by engaging in activities they deemed not respectable or proper for a lady. Engaging in women’s right’s movements or the politics of the day, was frowned upon, and thought to be unladylike subjects unfit for the delicate mind and constitution of women. Defying one's husband, especially in a public situation, was an absolutely humiliating affront to him and was, generally, not tolerated.
Immediately, on the first page, the readers are drawn into the story as they watch Iris as she stands on the deck of the ship taking her to the asylum in Virginia. Her back is straight and he demeanor calm. Her first thoughts are of the beauty of the location as she draws near. She sees a child and a black man, the son of the doctor who is the head of the asylum and the chef, fishing off the pier. She watches a young man, Ambrose, a former soldier suffering from the trauma of war, as he sits quietly before a checker board and appears quite normal. The relationship that blooms between Iris and Ambrose is a major theme.
The book makes you wonder, who is mad, who is sane, who gets to decide? Is Dr. Cowell fit to be the judge or is he just as mad as his patients? What motivates him? Is it his ego or his desire to return these people to the outside world again? Are the people who are employed there just a little mad also, or are they the victims of the madness surrounding them? Are the patients mad or has the environment they have been subjected to created the mental illness? Are women weak and frail, unfit to participate in the activities of men? Did Iris behave like a woman who has lost her sanity? Is Iris Dunleavy mad or is she simply the victim of her husband's authority?
This book is very intense. Near the end I was almost afraid to read on, fearful of the conclusion. I wondered if it would be happy, sad, gruesome? The author builds up the pressure until you feel afraid to turn the page for fear of what you will read. Although the ending is completely unexpected, I found it a little bit disappointing. On the whole, though, this is an imaginative, creative and original story. The chapters are short and easy to read. You won’t lose interest, because when you feel you might, the subject changes, just at the right time, and the story continues to hold your attention.
Can mental illness be cured? Can mistakes be forgiven? Can love conquer all? On the very last page, there is a scene with a lady who dances with a husband who isn’t really there. She imagines him into life. Is this the message of the book? Is she better off than those who live in misery, missing the person that isn’t there, the appendage that isn’t there, yearning for something unattainable? How do we find happiness? Did the doctor’s own arrogance and narcissism cause the events that transpired? The story will make you wonder what madness is, and who, indeed, is mad? In the 1800’s, psychiatry was in its infancy, the methods were untried and untested, the treatments were sometimes barbaric. Have we made any progress today or have we merely given the diagnoses, treatments and medications a different name? This book definitely packs a wallop and it will remain with you for a long time.
As an aside, if you enjoy this book, you might also want to see the film, "Iron Jawed Angels". It is a wonderful movie about the women who fought for the right to vote in the early 1900's, and the men who ruled over them, having them imprisoned indefinitely in asylums, as punishment for their outspoken behavior, believing this would cure them and return them to their conciliatory state of mind. Their pride was more important than their wives independence; even those that were well loved were mishandled in this way.
posted by thewanderingjew on April 27, 2012Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Most Helpful Critical Review
5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.
Anonymous April 24, 2012
posted by Reader49SB on April 26, 2012Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 30, 2012
Posted July 2, 2012
I recommend this novel ...so much so I have already passed it on!
I enjoyed this novel by Kathy Hepinstall.
Set during the Civil War. Iris Dunleavy the main character, was a plantation owner's wife who dared to speak her mind. Her thoughts and opinions on slavery eventually managed to get her tried and convicted of insanity. Iris is eventually sent to Sanibel Island in Florida where she will meet a set of interesting characters.
At the asylum, Iris believes she can prove to the staff and head doctor that she is not insane and that she was wrongly committed to the asylum. She is so desparate for someone to listen to her and hopefully send word home to her Mother and Father who have no idea what had been going on in her married life and that she had been committed to the asylum.
The only person who really listened to her was a troubled confederate solider named Ambrose Weller and the doctor's son, Wendell.
Iris and Ambrose eventually fall in love and set out on a journey together with hopes of leaving behind their past and the asylum forever.
I would recommend this novel. I have to say I do feel a bit let down with the ending but I understand why the author had to go that way.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 6, 2012
Posted February 14, 2014
Posted October 27, 2013
Posted December 14, 2012
I really enjoyed the historical aspect of this book. The civil w
I really enjoyed the historical aspect of this book. The civil war period was pivotal in the advancements of medicine, mental health applications as well as the beginning of the women's sufferage movement. This was all interesting and I enjoyed these topical introductions, however, they didn't really go anywhere. My eyes started to roll back in my head the more the relationship between Iris and Ambrose developed a love for eachother.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Groan, a beautiful and elegant woman falls for a handsome yet tortured soldier and thinks she can exorcise his demons with love blah, blah, blah.
Posted May 2, 2014
No text was provided for this review.
Posted July 10, 2014
No text was provided for this review.