My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book really snagged me right from the beginning because I love historical fiction and I love books set in insane asylums, a win win!
Accused of being insane by her husband, Iris Dunleavy is put on trial, judged to be mad and sent off to an asylum on Sanibel Island in Florida. Set during the Civil War, the story unfolds through the eyes of Iris, as we follow her journey by train and boat to this remote location.
Iris is an attractive woman, a lady, not the usual type of person that is committed to such a place and she isn’t insane. Her only crime is not being a compliant wife for her plantation owning husband. She abhors slavery, and the cruelty and violence that her husband inflicts on his own slaves. Her husband hopes that she can be ‘cured’ at the asylum and come back to him a more malleable wife.
At the beginning I thought the theme of this book would center around the lack of rights that women held during this time period (or for many years afterwards for that matter). After all we have Iris’s husband easily getting her sent away for displeasing him and we have the doctor at the asylum thinking that women who speak their minds or get emotional suffer from hysteria and need to be administered a cure.
But somewhere along the line the writing and the story seemed to get a little watered down and lose some of its power. It was still a good book, but I felt like the last half of the story didn’t live up to its beginnings.