by Patrick McGrath
4.0 38

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Asylum by Patrick McGrath

Patrick McGrath has created his most psychologically penetrating vision to date: a nightmare world rocked to its foundations by a passion of such force and intensity that it shatters the lives--and minds--of all who are touched by it.

Stella Raphael, a woman of great beauty and formidable intelligence, is married to Max, a staid and unimaginative forensic psychiatrist. Max has taken a job in a huge top-security mental hospital in rural England, and Stella, far from London society, finds herself restless and bored. Into her lonely existence comes Edgar Stark, a brilliant sculptor confined to the hospital after killing his wife in a psychotic rage. He comes to Stella's garden to rebuild an old Victorian conservatory there, and Stella cannot ignore her overwhelming physical attraction to this desperate man. Their explosive affair pits them against Stella's husband, her child, and the entire institution. When the crisis comes to a head, Stella makes a decision--one that will destroy several lives and precipitate an appalling tragedy that could only be fueled by illicit sexual love.

Asylum is a terrifying exploration of the extremes to which erotic obsession can drive us. Patrick McGrath brings his own dazzling blend of cool artistry and visceral engagement to this mesmerizing story of a fatal love and its unspeakably tragic aftermath. And in Stella Raphael, a woman who tears down the walls of her constricted existence to pursue a dangerous passion, he has created a character who will long be remembered for her willingness to take the ultimate risk, even if she must pay the ultimate price.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307764447
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/05/2011
Series: Vintage Contemporaries
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 291,795
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Patrick McGrath was born in London and grew up near Broadmoor Hospital, where for many years his father was medical superintendent. He is the author of Blood and Water and Other Tales, The Grotesque, Spider, and Dr. Haggard's Disease, and he was the co-editor, with Bradford Morrow, of The New York Gothic. He lives in New York City and London, and is married to actress Maria Aitken.

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Asylum 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
McGrath's prose is incredible; quiet, elegant and lovely, all the while relating a tale of horrible madness and misjudgement. This book floats along lovingly, wraping you up in the beauty of the words and the increasingly compeling mystery surrounding a beautiful woman (the wife of the deputy superintendant of an instutution for the criminally insane) and her sexual obsession with a dangerous patient. You experience all her feelings as she traps herself in her obsession, and horror and revulsion as the tragedies that inevitably are the result of such an obsession do in fact occur. McGrath has a real grasp of the female mind; a talent highly unusual for a male author. Asylum is literary psychological horror at it's best (the terms literary and horror usually being mutually exclusive). I just finished it for the second time and am still overwhelmed by the story, and the author's abilities. A must read. Period.
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
Asylum is a slow paced novel about the sexual obsessiveness of Stella and the consequences it has on the lives surrounding hers. I found I cared nothing for the characters and I very much disliked Stella, the main character. It's hard to care much about a book if you don't like the people who inhabit it's pages. Asylum is a slow paced book with not much happening on the outside. The book follows more closely the happenings on the inside of the characters, what they are thinking and feeling emotionally. There are a couple of things about Asylum I like. One is the descriptive scenery, especially when Stella and her husband move to a country house in Wales. The other is when Stella goes to live with the escaped mental patient Edgar (who murdered his wife in a psychotic rampage) and he starts to turn on her. She starts to see the side of Edgar who is imbalanced and brutal and it gives the novel some much needed suspense. Will Stella survive Edgar's psychosis? Can she mend her marriage with Max? Will her 10 year old son Charlie forgive the mother who walked out on their family? This novel is about obsession, guilt, forgiveness and what it truly means to seek asylum.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book flowed a little too slow at times but the author's writing style was very good and that is what kept me reading. I get very tired of books which leave you wondering about vague aspects of the story where vital information seems to be missing and this book did not leave me with that dilemma. Not an exciting read but very consistent. Definitely deserves a try. The book is written from the point of view of a psychiatrist who is finally given some personal definition in the final chapter of the book which made the ending rewarding to me.
Stelzon More than 1 year ago
I really want to give this book the full five stars, but I feel like there was a bit missing. The entire plot and concept of the story was great. It started off a bit slow and I wasn't too sure where it was gonna go during the first 10 pages but it definitely caught me by surprise. The story's about a psychiatrist who lives on campus at a large asylum for the mentally ill. His wife (Stella) grows fond of one of the asylum's patients (Edgar). The book has everything it it from love to sex and even a bit of tragic scenes and disputes that keep you hooked. (Spoiler alert coming up) The only reason I didn't give it the full 5 stars was because I thought the story would of been far more interesting if it gave more depth to the way that Stella tries to cope with her depression towards her son and her life. Other than that, excellent read and highly recommended to anyone looking for a great read that's a bit twisted.
NatalieTahoe More than 1 year ago
This is my first time reading a Patrick McGrath story. It will not be my last. I don't know how I haven't come across his work before, and I feel I have to catch up on all that I've missed out on. Normally, I finish a book and immediately pronounce to myself whether it was good or bad, and then I'm off to the next selection from my burgeoning bookshelves. It's been awhile, however, since I closed the pages of a story and had to sit and reflect for a few moments afterwards. Without question, this was an excellent book, and I needed more time to think on the very nature behind the story, the characters, and events. Needless to say, I brooded and ruminated on the ending for quite some time. Asylum, by Patrick McGrath has done all of this. It has all the elements of a story that I like -- a haunting setting in the gloomy and sweeping English countryside, a dark love affair, secrets, and ambiguity. Stella is the mother of a young boy, Charlie and the wife of Max, an esteemed psychiatrist at a maximum-security institution for the criminally insane just outside of London, England, in the late 1950s. Her day to day life of wife and mother is mundane, and her husband really doesn't have the drive or passion to keep her interested. Only a few patients are granted access to the grounds around the house on the institution, to work on the garden or to redo the old conservatory, with a watchful group of staff nearby. Unbeknownst to all, though, Stella becomes the lover of an incredibly dangerous patient, Edgar. He's quite an artist, but he's also destructively jealous -- his unending stay in the institution was determined because he killed his wife in a brutal and mutilating manner, apparently because she was seeing other men. Stella, however, still finds herself uncontrollably drawn to him and caught up in the passion of this bizarre love. This is an absolutely fascinating story and it is incredibly written, told through the perspective of another doctor at the institution, the older and wiser Dr. Peter Cleave. I initially thought I wouldn't care for this character, but I ultimately found that not only was it necessary in order to describe a general understanding of the mind -- the breakdown of Stella, the depth of manipulation by Edgar, and the ultimate weaknesses of Stella's husband, but it also explained the neurosis and psychosis of the characters. The insight Dr. Cleave provided was so critical to understand how these fictionalized people became completely devoid of reality only to succumb to the obsession everyone represses -- the ability to become thoroughly self-obsessed, whether or not it destroys innocent lives. With Peter telling the story, in some scenes almost clinically, it created a much more haunting feel and I felt completely entrenched in the story. Several times it seemed to intensify so sadly and in such a disturbing nature, that I couldn't fathom it to turn more grim than it already was, but the author was able to continue down that path even further. Peter provides a trusting credibility that lends quite a bit to the pleasure that I had in the twists that occurred. I was mortified, angry, heartbroken, and completely engrossed in the story. Patrick McGrath has created a suspenseful psychological thriller of obsession with oneself. It is haunting and dark, deeply erotic in some scenes, and altogether disturbing. Highly recommended, and I will be on the lookout for more Patrick McGrath books.
TMRosenthal More than 1 year ago
Brilliant and haunting, this beautifully and very skillfully written modern gothic romance is very effective. It gets under your skin like an infection (that's a compliment). The other reviewers and the book jacket blurbs give enough of a description of the book so I don't have to risk ruining it for you. Whatever you do, DO NOT READ THE REVIEW IN THE SUNDAY NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW by Michael Wood published February 23, 1997. He gives away a very important plot development in his review. The daily NY Times review makes a valid point (which I picked up on before I read the review) that there is a disturbing similarity between Asylum and Lady Chatterly's Lover at the beginning and then Asylum heads off in its own very unique direction. If you've read Lady Chatterly's Lover, then you have to read Asylum.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was excellent!!! I read it cover to cover in one sitting because I could not put it down! I loved the terror of it, yet it had a charming love story. It was anything but simple...amazingly put together. I wonder if there is any truth to it (I heard a very similar news report to this - with minor adjustments to the story).
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first foray into McGrath's world and what a delicious pleasure. This was one of the best books I've read. Both moving and incredibly suspensful. I recommend it to anyone who wants a good literary read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Duuude. This crud Haunted me. It makes you think after you read it. I mean... she did some sereousely cracra stuff! It was pretty slow, but it built up suspense. I Loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Marla-Singer More than 1 year ago
reading this book is like watching a movie, very fast pace and easy to read. This would be a great movie to make if there isn't one already. Not a scary book, more passionate than scary.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spooky and awesome!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
YOU ( must write more)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keep it up. Very creepy but very good. You're a very talented writer.<p>&#9825KHfan4ever&#9825
turbo567 More than 1 year ago
I agree with other reviewers. This is a slower paced book, with an unusual story. The characters are not necessarily likeable, but it makes for interesting discussion.
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qbanchula04 More than 1 year ago
I liked the sophistication of the prose used by the author. McGrath knows what to write and what to leave to the mind. I will see the movie soon and see it it lives up to my expectation.
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