Wildthorn

Wildthorn

4.0 32
by Jane Eagland
     
 

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They strip her naked, of everything—undo her whalebone corset, hook by hook. Locked away in Wildthorn Hall—a madhouse—they take her identity. She is now called Lucy Childs. She has no one; she has nothing. But, she is still seventeen—still Louisa Cosgrove, isn't she? Who has done this unthinkable deed? Louisa must free herself, in more ways… See more details below

Overview


They strip her naked, of everything—undo her whalebone corset, hook by hook. Locked away in Wildthorn Hall—a madhouse—they take her identity. She is now called Lucy Childs. She has no one; she has nothing. But, she is still seventeen—still Louisa Cosgrove, isn't she? Who has done this unthinkable deed? Louisa must free herself, in more ways than one, and muster up the courage to be her true self, all the while solving her own twisted mystery and falling into an unconventional love . . .

Originally published in the UK, this well-paced, provocative romance pushes on boundaries—both literal and figurative—and, do beware: it will bind you, too.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this unusual romance, first published in the U.K., debut author Eagland takes readers inside an insane asylum for women in the 19th century. The opening pages plod through 17-year-old Louisa Cosgrove's early days of incarceration and flashbacks that reveal little more than her fascination with both medicine and her lovely cousin, Grace. The story picks up, though, when it becomes apparent that Louisa is in love with Grace, and both Louisa and readers begin to wonder exactly why she was committed and who committed her. Eagland conveys the atrocities and filth of the asylum with shocking vividness: "e're allowed to go to the washroom... but it's a damp, dark place with cockroaches scuttling.... and only one grimy, frayed towel between us." The author tenderly and expertly builds a romance between Louisa and an attendant, Eliza ("I close my eyes, breathing in her warmth, her familiar almond scent and my thoughts fly like birds"). The surprisingly happy ending--in which Louisa escapes and confronts her accusers--is a welcome relief after all of her angst and despair. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"Louisa and Eliza provide a window into a shameful history of mental health care and women's incarceration that only ended in living memory."—Kirkus Reviews

"The author tenderly and expertly builds a romance between Louisa and an attendant, Eliza . . . The surprisingly happy ending—in which Louisa escapes and confronts her accusers—is a welcome relief after all of her angst and despair."—Publishers Weekly

"Eagland does a beautiful job of depicting the "real" Louisa in the end, with an unusual twist on the conventional romantic denouement. Teens will identify with her."—School Library Journal

"Fans of historical fiction or GLBTQ fiction will likely enjoy this unique story of mystery and romance."—VOYA

Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
The setting of this story is Victorian era England. Imagine being given an identity of someone else and locked away in an insane asylum for reasons that you cannot comprehend! This story was inspired by true stories of women who were incarcerated in asylums during that era. Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove experiences such a fate. After she is stripped of her identity, she cannot understand how anyone can possibly think she is Lucy Childs. Even the reader will wonder at times if Louisa is Lucy, and the rest of this nightmare is a figment of her imagination. Louisa must plan her escape, and determine the reason for the betrayal that put her in Wildthorn Hall. She develops a lesbian relationship with Eliza, an attendant and local farm girl, and this helps Louisa cope with her situation. The historical romance develops around Louisa having the courage to be her true self. She must not only solve the mystery of why she was committed to an insane asylum, but also deal with falling into an unconventional relationship. The content of this book is not for younger readers. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
VOYA - Amy Wyckoff
Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove is not mad, so why is it that she finds herself in an insane asylum with no means of escape? She is determined to discover who sent her to Wildthorn and the reason they are calling her Lucy Childs. In the asylum, they treat her like the other patients, giving her treatments she does not need—treatments that are so inhumane, she fears they will drive her insane. Louisa spends her days recalling the joyful moments she spent with her father, helping him with his medical practice. She refuses to give up her dream of becoming a doctor, despite the social restrictions of her time. After a first attempt to escape, she is locked in a ward for severely insane women, where her only comfort is visits from Eliza, an assistant who shows Louisa kindness. Louisa is determined to escape in order to pursue a career in medicine and see Eliza once more. Wildthorn is a dark tale featuring a vibrant protagonist who refuses to let others squelch her passion, even when she is physically locked up. Readers learn about the circumstances leading up to her imprisonment in the asylum in a series of vivid flashback chapters. It is not until the last part of the story, however, that readers learn why Louisa was sent there. This book would be best for older teens due to the description of frightening events in the asylum. Fans of historical fiction or GLBTQ fiction will likely enjoy this unique story of mystery and romance. Reviewer: Amy Wyckoff
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—When 17-year-old Louisa Cosgrove arrives at England's Wildthorn Hall, her world suddenly turns upside down. She is told that she's sick and that her name is Lucy Childs. When she protests, she is told, "Thinking you are someone else and thinking you are not ill are signs of how sick you are. You are lucky that you are here where we have the skill to cure you." With these words, her nightmare begins. Louisa tells her story herself, therefore pulling readers into her harrowing experience in the asylum. Eagland skillfully fills in backstory by having Louisa narrate the events that led up to her confinement. She recalls her early childhood and how her father encouraged her study of medicine, while her mother entreated her to conform to 19th-century expectations for her gender. These memories alternate with her current experiences and cruel treatment in the hospital. In fact, the author manages to plant a seed of doubt as to whether Louisa is really who she says and believes she is. Eagland does a beautiful job of depicting the "real" Louisa in the end, with an unusual twist on the conventional romantic denouement. Teens will identify with her frustration at not being believed, be horrified by how she is mistreated, feel relief about her daring escape, and learn a great deal about life in a 19th-century "mad house." Modern readers may find it difficult to accept the reason for her being locked up, but most teens will stick with Louisa's story until the end.—Wendy Scalfaro, G. Ray Bodley High School, Fulton, NY
Kirkus Reviews

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)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780330458160
Publisher:
Pan Macmillan
Publication date:
01/16/2009
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.29(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author



Born in Essex, Jane Eagland taught English in secondary schools for many years. After doing an MA in creative writing, she now divides her time between writing and tutoring. Wildthorn is her first novel, inspired by true stories of women who were incarcerated in asylums in the nineteenth century. Jane lives in Lancashire, England, in a house with a view of the fells.

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