Vivienne Mourdant is relieved at the death of her abusive father. His cruelty and harsh training made her into a famous, sought after pianist. Finally she was free to live her life and pursue her passion with music. That is until she found among his papers reference to a woman named Rose. For many years he had been paying for her keep at the Hurstwell Pauper Lunatic Asylum. Who was this mysterious woman? She was compelled to find her. She decided to become an employee at the asylum to gain inside information and search. Little did she know the danger she was exposing herself to.
I have read several fiction books depicting the lives and treatment of those living in what was referred to as lunatic asylums during the 1800’s. I have even read Nellie Bly’s, “Ten Days in a Mad-house”. None of these books came even close to giving the true picture of what these inmate’s lives were like, but Ms. Politano captures it all in this novel.
She exposes the unjust, raw nightmare conditions of those who fell victim of these establishments. Many inmates would become lifetime prisoner simply by someone’s accusation or assumption that they were mentally ill. Sadly family members were often the culprit just wanting to rid themselves of the person. Some simply suffered from health problems. I was grieved at the inhumane treatment and hopelessness of these poor souls.
The story is powerful. I could not read it at long stretches and especially not before going to bed. All in the entire story is one of perseverance in the face of great hardship. Vivienne’s faith, and belief she would escape even with such physical and mental abuse was inspirational. I loved the surprise ending.
I received this book from LibraryThing and Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated are my own.