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Location: Brooklyn, NY, United States

21 April 2013


Wildthorn by Jane Eagland is an historical fiction novel about a girl who read too much - as it lead to her being locked in a mental institution.

Louisa Cosgrove wants to be a doctor. But in Victorian England girls did not become doctors. Wisdom of the time said that girls who read too much would become mad. They would reject their place as mothers and wives and possible even develop the idea that they were men. Louisa's father supports her. He is a doctor and the person giving her books to study.

Louisa thinks she has convinced her father to let her attend the London School of Medicine for Women. When her father becomes ill, she will have to convince her brother Tom to let her attend. And Tom does not think women can or should become doctors.

The next thing she knows, Louisa is being sent to live with the Woodvilles - a wealthy family looking for a companion for their daughter. But when the carriage arrives at a large imposing building, it is not a family home but an asylum for women. And the paperwork says she is Lucy Childs who has suffered a breakdown.Louisa is not sure how she ended up at the Wildthorn asylum, but she must find a way out - or at the very least a way to survive.

Eagland has written a rich historical fiction novel with a lovable character and a twisted plot. Readers will not see how Louisa can get out of her situation, but root for her with every page until they discover the key. Great novel.

Eagland, Jane. (2009). Wildthorn. New York: Houghton Mifflin.

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