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Surely this is a mistake. Surely her family will rescue her from this horrible, disgusting place. But as she unravels the mystery, she discovers those are the very people she can't trust. So who can she? There's one person--Eliza. As their love grows, Louisa realizes treachery locked her away. Love is the key to freedom.
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)
"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
Posted February 26, 2012
This book is an instant fav. All the twists and turns in this book you will be talking outloud to the charcters in this book! And oh god the ending blew my mind!!! I loved this book! Please read!
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Posted November 1, 2011
I think it did start out slow and dragged on for longer than was really necessary. You do spend most of the book waiting for something to happen. However, I also was thinking this book was going to turn out differently. I wish someone had told me that the main character is a lesbian. That makes the love interest parts of the novel totally different.
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Posted May 27, 2010
Wildthorn was definitely a different kind of novel. Jane is an excellent author who weaves the scene into reality with her words, and she creates a very believable atmosphere.
Louisa was a brave young woman. Not only did she defy society's ideals with her choice of occupation, but also with her choice of lover. I will not lie...that part threw me for a bit, but I chose to overlook it and enjoy the novel for what it was. Eliza was a very kind and courageous character. She helped Louisa knowing that she could be caught and dismissed from her post...or worse. I really liked her, and I became fond of her quickly. Louisa's brother (and some of her other relatives) were a little messed up. I just wanted to strangle them for all the pain they caused her.
Jane creates a very believable environment in the asylum. Some of the acts committed there were enough to make me cry at the injustice of it. She is a very good author, and I hope to read more from her in the future.
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Posted June 24, 2013
Posted June 28, 2011
I could not help but feel so angry for Louisa. She dealt with such a great injustice against her, I could hardly believe the outcome of the story. She's definitely a very strong character especially with the odds not in her favor. I liked how she's portrayed as not a typical Victorian English woman. She was more of a tomboy and wanted to follow in her father's footsteps. Unfortunately she just happened to be born in the wrong century. I liked how she didn't think she acted any different, and in fact thought the 'girly' girls were just odd because they did not share the same interests as she did.
Of all characters I loathed Tom. I really did. He was spiteful, horrible, cruel, and he deserved a whole lot of pain than he got. I'd have to say he's one of the most hated characters I have ever encountered so far in a book. Phyllis was also another character I did not care for, and although her ending was a little more satisfying than Tom's, I thought she didn't really receive her proper come uppins.
Overall, the plot was good and very well written. I thought the writing did a good job in capturing how it felt to be in an asylum during the Victorian Age. It's bleak, and depressing, and situations could potentially get worse should you become 'uncooperative'. It's an eye opener, and horrible to read because the reader is aware of Louisa's mental health, but also reading on how she got there in the first place is shocking and horrifying.
As for the romance in this book, it may not be for everyone, I sort of figured who Louisa would be with and it's predictable. Some argue why is this even necessary. True, but also realize that without the love, Louisa might not have been strong enough to endure what she had to go through and it was what kept her going.
This was an eye opening read, and although dark and bleak throughout most of the book, there is a good satisfying ending. It shows how they used to think back then, and what was the norm and what was not. It's hard to read without feeling some sort of anger but it's also a satisfying read because Louisa is one of the strongest characters I have ever read so far. To have gone through what she had, would have taken a lot of strength both mentally and physically.
Posted June 22, 2011
I seem to be having the best of luck with historical fiction these days, because right after reading Contagion, I stumbled across this one, and let me tell, you I'm so glad I did because Wildthorn is a fantastic, page-turning, and romantic tale of one girl's fight to break out of a place where she's not mean to be- not at all.
Wildthorn opens up the day Louisa Cosgrove is off to live at a new place where she's supposed to help one of her brother's friends around the house, but instead of landing at a welcoming house, she ends up a Wildthorn, a place for the mentally ill. Stripped of her clothes, her possessions, and basically everything grand to her, she's left with new, bland clothes, as well as a new name- Lucy Childs. Lucy Childs, as she's told, is a girl facing mental illness and is a threat to herself as well as others. Louisa knows there's something wrong with this, she's not mentally ill, not at all! Soon enough, she begins to develop a plan with a trustworthy, faithful nurse; it's a plan that will break her out of this tortuous place, but will it work? And what happens when Louisa falls into a surprising romance, unlike any other during her time? Only more pages and time will tell in this thoroughly immersing historical fiction that will have even the most reluctant of readers pleasantly surprised.
Louisa is a girl I liked from the start. She has spunk to her, spunk that leads to her being someone quite brave and brilliant, if I must say so myself. I loved the fact that she wanted to be a doctor rather than play dress-up and drink tea like most of the girls her age. I also liked that when everything was taken from her, she rose to the task and brought it back with even more than she gendered. Another character I really enjoyed reading about was Eliza. Eliza is a nurse Louisa begins to befriend as time goes on, and it was a friendship I truly reading about, because it developed Louisa (and Eliza of course) even more as characters.
Furthermore, Ms. Eagland did a fantastic job with the plot of Wildthorn. The setting she created with the actual Wildthorn was chilling to the bone, and even though it was sometimes tough to read about all the tragic things that happened to the girls when left to the hands of the workers, I respect Eagland for giving her readers a truthful look into the topic of mental illness institutions of this time. Adding to this, I enjoyed how Jane constantly had me guessing of how everything was going to end with all the twist and turns she kept introducing into the story.
And what I liked most about this story was that it had a realistic ending, and while I won't say more than that, I'm sure many other readers of Wildthorn will agree with me about that aspect.
In all, Wildthorn is yet another fantastic and memorable read for fans of historical fiction. I simply can't wait to see what Ms. Eagland has in store for us next!
Posted April 7, 2011
Louisa Cosgrove is on her way to be a companion to the sister of her brother's acquaintance. Her mother insisted she require a chaperone on the long carriage ride. Louisa can't believe she requires one, but she quietly goes along with the unhappy woman. But Louisa is surprised when they wind up at the wrong place. As she is ushered from the carriage, the house staff start calling her Lucy Childs. Immediately, Louisa believes there is a mistake. What seems to be a misunderstanding soon turns to a nightmare. For Louisa has been brought to a mental hospital and is being treated as a patient. No one will allow her to see the person in charge, and no one will refer to her by her real name, Louisa. It isn't until Louisa is befriended by an aide at the hospital, Eliza, that she gains an ally. But Louisa finds herself in trouble and is soon transferred to a horrible wing of the facility. While she is on this ward, Eliza tells her the most terrifying news of all. Eliza has found a way to gain access to Louisa's chart, and she tells Louisa the name on the chart of who committed her. Louisa's life turns to pure hell as she comes to grips with who committed her and why they possibly would do such a thing. Louisa is determined to escape and confront the person who has put her in this situation. She can't fathom why her dreams of being a doctor would cause anyone problems. Though it is the olden days, her desire to be a physician isn't totally against the norm. WILDTHORN was such an amazing read. I totally didn't see how the story was going to play out, nor did I anticipate the surprises along the way. Louisa is a strong character and true to herself the entire time, even faced with the direst of situations. The chapters alternate between the past and the present, slowly allowing the reader to grasp the truth behind Louisa's situation. WILDTHORN was originally published in Great Britain in 2009. I'm pleased that it made its way to the United States. This is the first book that I've read by Jane Eagland, but it won't be the last. I devoured the story quickly and had to see how Louisa would get even with those against her. Also, how could you not want to pick this novel up? The cover is absolutely gorgeous in its simplicity!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 20, 2011
Wildthorn threw me off-guard - I'm not sure what I had been expecting, but it was along the lines of something magical as the shiny, metallic pink cover suggested (at least in my mind). Even though there was no magic to be had, I still found myself quite entranced with Louisa's predicament of what has to be a horrible case of mistaken identity. The first half of the book alternates between Louisa's past and present - and the flashbacks serve as a way to get to know Louisa better as a precocious young woman who would rather play doctor with her dolls and learn how to prove if arsenic had been used to color stockings green. While the many memories confirm that Louisa is Louisa and not deranged in that regards, I was left to wonder how Louisa ended up at the asylum. Surely it is a mistake, but was it somehow connected with the strange lady companion who had been hired to bring her to a well-to-do London family - or did the betrayal run deeper along the lines of family? With great ease, Jane Eagland tackles the delicate issue of sexuality and gender inequality as well as the terrifying conditions of asylums back in the Victorian Age. I found Wildthorn absolutely riveting! It was such a stark difference from other books that I have read. I mean, how often do asylums get the spotlight in a book? Also, Wildthorn makes me appreciate how much more balanced society is, gender-wise, and the opportunities now available for women. Beautifully written, Wildthorn paints a drastic picture of what could happen to a forward-thinking Victorian girl who attempts to break free from the tightening corset of society.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 12, 2011
I Also Recommend:
An exceptionally engrossing read. The main idea of the story Louisa being shut away in an asylum under the name Lucy Childs was interesting and suspenseful enough to pull me in but then when it turns into a love story it takes an intriguing romantic turn which will keep you burning through the pages till the very end.
I'd recommend it. :)
Posted December 15, 2010
As soon as the carriage arrives at Wildthorn Hall, Louisa realizes that there's some mistake when she's told that she's not Louisa but Lucy Childs and is here to get treated. From there, Louisa has only to keep telling herself that she'll get out that she's Louisa in order to keep herself sane. This was a hard book to read where some of the characters especially Louisa's family, with the exception of Louisa, Eliza and Grace, were just weird and horrible, especially Weeks. Eventually Louisa escapes and learns the truth of who's responsible for putting her in Wildthorn in the first place and why. Kept turning page after page wanting to know how it'll all end. Louisa's a brave and strong willed character. She choose what she herself wanted to do with her life. The ending was good but in a way a little sad. Recommend this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 13, 2010
There aren't enough words to describe why this book was amazing. At it's core, it follows a girl who strives to be an individual in the society before it became okay for women to have aspirations in England. Further, there is the mystery element and even deeper there are twists and turns, and deeper there is love. I never thought I'd find a novel that features a sense of realism and something that pulls together a relateable element. SPOILERSPOILER: the fact that there is an LGBT element that is successfully worked into the novels storyline gives me hope for other authors to do things similar so that LGBT teens can have more novels for them to relate to and read. The fact that this aspect is treated as normally as possible and not as the main point of the novel (though at times it is) is wonderful. This just proves that this book is well balanced in every possible way.
I recommend this novel to everyone.
Posted November 23, 2010
I probably won't have read this one initially. But, it came up on netgalley and that was enough for me to request. I was really glad I did.
The story alternates between present day and things in the past. I had to pay attention to the dates of events in the past because the time frame is different. But, all events are keys to what is going on it the present. I was never confused though, probably because the setting of each is easy to pinpoint. The story was gripping and fast paced. I was never bored and very eager to figure out who had placed her Wildthorn and why. And, it turned out that I was completely wrong. I love being surprised by the way a story turns out.
I really enjoyed Louisa's character. I can't imagine being sent to an asylum and not having any clue as to why. Plus, having everyone insist that she's someone else. I'm surprised she actually didn't go crazy by the events. She keeps a pretty level head and is always thinking about the next step to getting out and figuring out what is going on. What she endured in the asylum would be enough to break anybody of the will to find out the truth.
The romance in this was very tastefully done. I knew that it fell into the LGBT category so I knew what to expect. But, I enjoyed watching Louisa discover that it didn't matter. I can't imagine a teen having those feelings in the 1800's. I imagine that it would have been catastrophic.
Posted September 9, 2010
I don't really read a lot of historical novels, but this one looked so interesting I just had to give it a try. I'm so glad that I did! Wildthorn was an extremely engaging read. I devoured it all in one day. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it!
Can you imagine being put in a loony bin and being treated like complete crap just because you enjoyed reading and learning new things. Considered morally insane, all because you wanted to be a doctor? Well, that's what happens to poor Louisa. Not only is she locked up, but she is mistreated. I felt for her from the very beginning. She was such an easy character to relate too, since I too have an obvious love of reading :)
I've heard other bloggers say that the romance was a surprise, but I went into this one knowing that there is a LGBT theme. The romance is so sweet though, and completely believable. I absolutely loved it. I realized who the love interest was going to be early on in the story, and it was a great match up in my opinion!
Overall this was a touching story about how life really was back then, and the sad things that some women had to endure. I really enjoyed this one and recommend it to all of you YA fans!
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Posted September 8, 2010
Originally posted at: www.aurorareviews.blogspot.com ***** Louisa Cosgrove or Lucy Childs - what is her real name?
Louisa has always been an unusual child. She longs to follow in her father's footsteps and become a doctor, but this occupation is frowned on for women of her class.
Her family arrange for Louisa to work as a companion to a young girl, but instead of arriving at a large country house, she is locked in a mental asylum and told her name is Lucy Childs. Despite the cruel and unpleasant regime she is forced to lead in the asylum, Louisa clings to her identity and plans to escape. But how can she do this and where will she go? Her only friend is Eliza, one of the assistants.
Wildthorn is an unusual book but definitely had me hooked from page one. I got a good understanding of the workings of the mental institutions of the Victorian era and how young ladies were not free to run their own lives, but were expected to obey their male relatives.
Louisa's belief in herself makes the book so engrossing. Only once does she falter in her determination to escape the asylum. Out of place in her own era she would have fitted perfectly into today's world. Betrayed by those who were supposed to protect her, she perseveres in her fight to regain her freedom.
Romance is not the main focus of this book. It doesn't need to be, the story moves at a strong pace keeping the reader engrossed and eager to find out what is going to happen next. The romance is necessary, although it appears to be superfluous until the end of the book when all is revealed.
I would like to thank the author for writing such a well thought out and entertaining book. It is suitable for the older teenager rather than the juvenile reader, but would also be enjoyed by an adult.
Posted September 6, 2010
I usually can read a book a day or at the very least a book every two days. This book, however, took me over a week to read. It's not that it was a bad book... just rather slow-paced. I spent most of the book wondering when something was going to start happening and it seemed like most of the time was just empty space and filler material. I guess that's to be expected when the main character is in a mental institute and is drugged most of the time. Otherwise, the story line was decent with a few twists and turns concerning the reason she was in the institute. The setting felt real enough and fit the time frame as well. Louisa (the main character) was a good character, but at times her character seemed a bit flat. One thing about this book that kind of annoyed me was the frequency of flashbacks in the beginning of the book. I found it distracting and disrupted the flow of the book.
Summary that may contain slight spoilers: Lousia wants to be a doctor more than anything, but that is not an acceptable for a woman in this time period. She also may have inappropriate feelings for someone that is also unacceptable for the time period. She believes she is traveling to help in a wealthy persons' household but instead finds herself locked up in an all-girls' mental institution where they believe that she is really named Lucy Childs. She has a rough time through out the entire duration but through the hardships she meets Eliza, a worker in the institution, who may end up being the best thing that has happened to Louisa. She eventually escapes the asylum and is able to begin following her dreams.
This is a good book if you are looking for books that focus of this age and the time period's view of the mentally ill. If you are looking for a fast paced, action packed adventure... this may not be the best choice for you. Overall though it is a decent read.
*I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for a review.
Posted September 1, 2010
Truly something new and different, perfect for any reader tired of the old boy-meets-girl/vampire-meets-werewolf scene. Fast pace and fascinating, I can't wait to read this one again. Don't miss this splendid new teen read!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 18, 2010
"Excessive study, especially in one of the fair sex, often leads to insanity..."
The Dangers of Excessive Learning: (girls who studied too much would become) "dogmatic and presumptuous, self-willed and arrogant, eccentric in dress and disagreeable in manner."
Can you imagine living in times when this was the norm? When you could be deemed insane because you didn't want to be a housewife and mommy? Sounds crazy to us and we are lucky to live in the age that we do.
This book was one hell of a ride! From page one I was grabbed by the throat and carried along. The writing was so alive that I felt like I was in Louise's body feeling the fear, the anger, the confusion that she was. I was in that asylum with her and it was as horrible to read as it had to be to live it. The fact that this book is based on true stories turns my stomach even more.
I accused everyone in her family but was floored by the events that came out as the book went along. (Can't go into detail, read the book!!!) I loved the relationship between Louisa and Grace but at the same time I wanted to shake some sense into Grace!
Eliza was a godsend. From the moment she entered the story to the end, she was an angel in disguise. I am not sure that I liked the ending but I did understand why it ended as it did.
That's all you are getting from me. Find this book and read it. It says Young Adult but I wouldn't have called it that.
Recommended to anyone, females especially and yes, young adults so they can appreciate what they have and what people had to endure do they could have it.
Posted July 8, 2010
Louisa Cosgrove is in trouble. On the way to stay with some friends of her older brothers, she finds the carriage stopped in front of an asylum instead. An asylum for mentally ill women, and they seem to think she's someone names Lucy Childs. Try as she might to convince them of their mistake, they just assume her "confusion" is all part of her mental condition.
Louisa was an oddity for her time. She wanted to be a doctor like her father in an era where females even being nurses was still frowned upon. As she tries to unravel the threads of her past and figure out how she ended up in the asylum, Wildthorn, we get to see the difficulties and joys of her life as she grew up. We also get a very intimate look into what asylum life was like - and it wasn't very pretty.
Louisa finds unexpected friends, and surprising enemies as she goes. I was very surprised when the betrayer of her trust is finally revealed and is forced to come to terms with what happened to Louisa.
While the story was interesting and moved along fairly well, there were times I had a little trouble believing in some of the characters, at times they seemed very static.
Posted July 5, 2010
I really did like this book. Louisa is a strong protagonist and she knows what she wants in life. The only problem, women aren't allowed many freedoms during this time. While Louisa thinks she is headed off to a friendly home to befriend a young lady she is really headed to an asylum where the head doctor is more worried about lining his pockets than caring for his patients. All along I thought I knew for sure what was going on in this book and then wham! I found out I had been wrong all along. I really like it when I'm wrong about where a book is going. This story was strong, had good characters, caught and held my attention, and had an original(to me anyway) plot. Word of warning, this book does have some romance between two young women. Not detailed but it is there. While this did not bother me at all I thought I might mention it for the younger audience and/or parents.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 1, 2010
In this book Louisa is a strong, independent young woman who does not want to follow convention and become a "lady" as her station demands. Her father was quite indulgent and loved the fact that Louisa wanted to follow in his footsteps even though at that time women were not allowed to be doctors. As she grows and becomes more and more discontent with her station, her secret slips out as to what she really wants to do with her life. With her father's death, she no longer has the support of her dream and falls under the "protection" of others trying to direct her life. She ends up in an asylum for the insane without any explanation as to why it was happening. Not only does she get stripped of her dreams, and freedom, she also loses her identity of her own name.
The mystery of who and why this was done to her is slowly revealed throughout the book. Some of the reasons are expected and some are not. I think that this mystery was well presented as well as to how the asylum affected Louisa. The only part I found unbelievable about the asylum was the lack of diseases within the walls. The did present a few, but in places like that at those times, an outbreak of one serious disease would run rampant throughout the whole place. In this book, it seemed confined to it's specific patients. Also, although the staff was abusive, I thought the abuse was light for the times. However, it is a YA book and I would shudder to think how it would be written if more accurate. Given those criticisms, they are light and do not interfere with the book as a whole. I also love the fact that Louisa does find love in the end, but it may be surprising to some. I hope not. To say more might spoil the ending so I will leave it there.
I give this book 4 stars. I think this was a pretty good YA book and I recommend it for those audiences. There is a slight mention of sex, but it was not graphic.