Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Publication Date: 9/6/10
Source: We Love YA Tours
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 . .
I knew from reading the description that Wildthorn would not be an easy book to read. Louisa feels like a modern woman trapped in a time where women were expected to make social calls and run a household. If you desire a life that is more more than what is expected of you, eyebrows begin to raise. She is willful and her behavior leads to betrayal-and she ends up at Wildthorn Hall, a mental institution.
Louisa is told everything about herself is false-even her name. She is Lucy Childs. When she tries to say otherwise, the attendants merely think she is mad. As a twenty-first century woman, it's beyond frustrating to read what's happening to Louisa, and frankly, that anyone would have the right to lock a woman up against her will. I'd heard of this sort of thing before, women being tossed into mental institutions because their husbands couldn't be bothered with their behavior, or for mild medical conditions. It's distressing to say the least.
Louisa is not what I'd call a reliable narrator, and at more than one point during reading I wondered if she really was going around the bend. Not that I would blame her, as her open heart often lands her into heaps of trouble. That said, it's hard not to feel empathy for Louisa, and that's what kept me reading, I had to hope that she would get past this horrible experience to realize her dreams. Wildthorn is historical fiction in the vein of one of my all-time favorite authors, Sarah Waters.
Without giving too much away, I will say that I didn't feel that the blurb on the front of the book "Treachery locks her away. Love is the key" is accurate. If you were to pick this book up looking for an old fashioned historical romance, I think you'd probably be disappointed. I guess I feel like not every book has to have a love story. There are whispers of romance in Wildthorn, but I would consider this book more about a girl's struggle for her freedom versus a historical romance.
If you love historical fiction, you should pick Wildthorn when it hits shelves in September.