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

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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547505053
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
09/06/2010
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
240,106
Lexile:
HL630L (what's this?)
File size:
238 KB
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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Wildthorn 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
insertbooktitle More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I waited and waited to get this book, mostly because I was unsure about it and now I'm seeing with good reason. First of all, I wanted to love this story because some of the descriptions made me think of Sarah Waters' novels and I adore historical fiction, especially with a lesbian sub-genre. But about a third of the way in I realized that this wasn't going to be on par with the historical fiction I'm used to. It took so long for the story to get going. The author spends way too much time setting up the background that would paint Louisa as a strong, tomboyish and willful child. It felt like that part of the story could have been rendered in a more succinct way. I also had a love hate relationship with the fact that Louisa's lesbianism isn't explicitly discussed. On one hand I was thrilled to find a character with a minority sexual orientation in a story that wasn't soley focused on thr character's orientation. But, given the historical context it makes little sense not to discuss it further. I felt Louisa would have been more conflicted about her feelings for other women given the societal and cultural climate of Victorian times. Also, I had a real issue with her being in love with her cousin. So many people conflate homosexuality with incest and I felt the author should have taken more time to consider a different love interest for Louisa that wasn't a family member. This further leads to the erroneous idea that homosexulity is perverse and will lead to more acts of real perversion. Overall, I enjoyed the subject matter. I'm a sucker for any novel historical or not with a focus on LGBT characters or issues and mental illness/psychiatry. In the end though, the book felt too predictable and too much like a watered down version of Sarah Waters' Fingersmith for me to love it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The plot was interesting, but thats all the things positive i have to say about this book. I do agree with other reviewers when its said thet the book seems to drag on for a long time. At least 50 pages could have been shaved off to create more of a fast-paced story. I already figured out what was going to happen at the end when i was only halfway through reading it. I hated the ending and thought it made no sense at all, and the main character was so under-developed. I did not like it at all.
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Sensitivemuse More than 1 year ago
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.
Lauren817 More than 1 year ago
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! Grade: B+
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
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!
epicrat More than 1 year ago
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.
Amanda18 More than 1 year ago
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. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
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.
TatyyGirl More than 1 year ago
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.
pagese More than 1 year ago
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.
LASR_Reviews More than 1 year ago
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.
Stardust0129 More than 1 year ago
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.
Whimsy_Roo More than 1 year ago
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!