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 . . .Review:
This well-paced, provocative romance pushes boundaries—both literal and figurative. Do beware: it will bind you, too.
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!
Wildthorn is now out!
Source: Unsolcited review copy provided by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children