Set in northwest England in the year 1866, this heartbreaking novel is of a woman put into a mental institution by her husband- a husband she never wanted. Ivy Squire, nee Greenlake (having to change her name was an irritation to her) was married by her parents to Benjamin Squire as a social and economic move; Squire’s mother, who made the match, only wanted someone decorative and fertile. Ivy was not consulted at all- not at all unusual for that time. Ivy, an avid reader and devoted to her invalid sister, had no interest in leaving home. But her odd ways had always been an embarrassment to her mother, and this marriage offer was a good arrangement in her eyes.
Sadly, her odd ways make her less than satisfactory to her new spouse and mother-in-law, and Ivy is revolted by her husband and his demands. When she finds secret ways to maintain some autonomy, her happiness proves short lived.
Ivy’s odd ways are simply Asperger’s syndrome, unheard of in the Victorian age. In our day, people with Asperger’s are just beginning to be accepted as normal (whatever that is); imagine how much worse it would have been back then, when every inconvenient female was considered to have a mental illness, as was every one who did not adhere closely to the prevailing way of life.
Problems at the institute make Ivy’s – and the other patient’s- situation worse. Enoch Gale, founder of Goldcord and Medical Superintendent, has secrets that would ruin him were they known. To add to Gale’s problems, the Commission in Lunacy, which oversees mental hospitals, is starting to frown on the fact that very few patients are released as cured. Dr. Ballard, new to Goldcord, and the new nurse, Tilly Swann, show promise of making humane changes, but can they do this before a panicked Gale destroys lives?
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My copy of Goldcrop Asylum was given to me by the author in return for a fair review; this in no way affected my review.