Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Age Recommendation: 14+
Length: Full Length (355 pgs)
Rating: 5 suns
Reviewed by Orchid
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 . . .
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.