Tag Archives: Historical Romances

Review: The Asylum

The Asylum

The Asylum
By John Harwood
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780544003477, May 2013, 224pp.)

The Short of It:

An asylum, a young woman who has supposedly gone mad, the English setting…and yet I struggled with it.

The Rest of It:

Georgina Ferrars wakes up in an asylum. She can’t remember how she got there or why, but she is quickly told that she admitted herself under the name of Lucy Ashton. When she questions this, her uncle back home is notified and he confirms that the REAL Georgina Ferrars is in fact, with him, and that there must be some mistake.

As you can imagine, the mistaken identity piece of this story is what’s most puzzling. Why is she in this asylum? What is going on back home? Is someone doing this to her on purpose? These are the questions that kept going through my mind. I’ve never been one to turn down a book that had anything to do with an asylum. The setting fascinates me as done anything pertaining to psychology or mental illness so this book felt like a good fit for me. Especially, the first half.

But then something strange happened. The story started going back and forth with flashbacks and the like and somewhere along the way, the author lost me. I mean, I was totally and utterly lost! I backtracked and reread entire chapters and could not figure out what was going on. It was so bad at one point, that I checked page numbers to see if my copy had a chunk torn out. Nope. The pages were intact and then out of nowhere, I was suddenly reading a lesbian love scene. Not a bad scene, quite well-written actually, but how did it fit into the story? I haven’t a clue!

This is one of those situations where I either totally spaced out, or I missed a critical line somewhere but the entire second half was a mystery to me. Even the ending. I haven’t a clue what transpired. I feel silly for admitting this but I have to be honest. I got really frustrated trying to figure it out and decided that if I just continued to read, it would all fall into place. No, it did not.

I have to say though, that first half was quite compelling. Harwood’s handling of the setting is what made that first half a page-turner for me. I just wish the second half had been as compelling. I read a lot of heavy stuff and can usually follow along without any problems but clearly, I missed something here.

Anyone want to clue me in? If so, email me.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Fancy That! Genres Through the Ages

This is my first, official Fancy That! post.

Anyway, I was thinking about the types of books that I used to read when I was younger. When I was in junior high/high school, I read a lot of thrillers. Stephen King was, well…KING. I stayed up all night reading his books. When I ran out of King books, I turned to Dean Koontz. Someone asked me to read Watchers and I loved it. I think I went out and got all of his books after reading that one.

Sometime after that, I turned to historical romance. Yes! Me! Real bodice rippers too. I loved Johanna Lindsey. A friend of mine was a bit older than me and one summer she found herself hooked on them. She’d give me her copies but I also got quite a few of them from the library. I didn’t need sex education in school because these books told me all I needed to know and tossed in some historical stuff as well. Can teens check these types of books out from the library now? They have ratings for movies but not for books. Just wondering. I mean, would a librarian stop a young girl from checking out a book that might be too mature for her?

In college, I was exposed to a lot of different genres. Much of it was required reading but I didn’t care. I loved all of it. At that time, I fell in love with the classics but the genre that I really favored, was dystopian fiction and to this day, this is the genre that I really covet yet I have the hardest time admitting. Why do I have a hard time admitting it? Well, because for many, dystopian = fail. Meaning, that society has crumbled or fallen in upon itself and lots of people see that as depressing. I don’t see it that way at all though.

For me, I love to pick it apart. To see where society failed or better yet, to try to predict when it will fail. Orwell’s 1984 still resonates with readers today because the concept of Big Brother is more relevant now than it was when the book was first written (1949). BUT, when I read it back in college I could see all of that happening. It didn’t seem so far off to me and that’s how it is when I read dystopian fiction today. Volcanoes erupting, pandemics making themselves known, earthquakes…so many earthquakes. I’ve read all this in books, but have you taken a look around lately?

So my question to you is this, do you still love the genres of your youth? I can’t say that I love thrillers anymore even though I do read them every now and then and historical romance hasn’t had my attention since I put it down in the mid-eighties. I guess you could say that I outgrew those genres. What about you? Is there a genre that you used to love that you cannot read now?