Wednesday, 29 April 2015

What She Left Behind

"What She Left Behind" by Ellen Marie Wiseman

   Much of this novel takes place in Willard State Asylum in New York in the 1930's.  The author researched this subject before writing the book.  It is distressing to see how the patients were treated and to realize that some of the women were there because they were not compliant with their parents' wishes or their husbands' wishes.  They were not mentally ill, but still spent much of their lives in an asylum.
   Actually, the protagonist does not live in the asylum.  She is a 17-year-old girl, Isabelle Stone, whose mother had shot her father.  Her mother had been put in a mental asylum. Isabelle was in a foster home, in 1995, with parents who were curators at the museum and as part of their work, they were examining the articles left in the abandoned Willard State Asylum.  As Isabelle, working with her foster mother, was checking the contents of a suitcase, she discovered a diary.  This led to a wonderful entwining of the two stories: Clara Cartwright, 18, in 1930, and Isabelle Stone, 17, in 1995.
   The story is upsetting but I couldn't put it down.  The author is very descriptive and, at times, I needed to rush through that description to see what would happen.
 The two storylines fit together beautifully, and came together in a very dramatic ending.
  This is Wiseman's second novel.  It had received great reviews!

"Coal River" is Wiseman's new book, coming in December.  It is about a young woman who tries to end child labour in an early 20th century Pennsylvania mining town.
I expect it will also be tense and distressing.

No comments:

Post a Comment