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Blue Asylum
Blue Asylum
Author: Kathy Hepinstall
Put on trial by her slaveholder husband and convicted of madness by a Virginia judge, Iris Dunleavy has been sent to the very expensive Sanibel Asylum to be restored as a good plantation wife. She will, the institution's superintendent assures her, be convinced of her wrongdoing, but Iris knows that her husband is the real criminal and that ...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780544002227
ISBN-10: 0544002229
Publication Date: 4/9/2013
Pages: 288
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 15 ratings
Publisher: Mariner Books
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

23dollars avatar reviewed Blue Asylum on + 432 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
BLUE ASYLUM was the November 2012 pick in my online book club, The Reading Cove. And I must say, to my delight, I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to!

I'd read Kathy Hepinstall's The Absence of Nectar and The House of Gentleman years ago, and found the writing style boring, just wasn't for me. So when her latest, Blue Asylum, was picked for book club, I cringed...but in the spirit of being a good member, I decided to give it a go and I'm so glad I did!

The book gets off to a very engaging start with Iris Dunleavy being wrongfully committed to an insane asylum off the coast of Florida. The pacing is wonderful - short and concise chapters help to keep things moving and your interest high in getting to know the many characters in the asylum.

And the novel takes its time filling in blanks, which also keeps you turning the pages.

There were also many laugh-out-loud moments in the first half of the story as we learn about some of the patients on the island, adding a comedic tone to the dark, gothic atmosphere.

While I was disappointed in the last quarter of the book and the way things wrapped up, the story and characters were engaging enough to enjoy overall.

I give this one 3.5 out of 5 stars, or a solid B.
booksalicious avatar reviewed Blue Asylum on + 43 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Blue Asylum tells the story of Iris Dunleavy a plantation owner's wife who is sent to Sanibel Asylum a kind of retreat for the insane in the years of the Civil War. It might be considered on the same level as some of the twelve step program 'retreats' that the wealthy enter today to treat their 'addiction problems' except that they are doing more swimming and getting massages in these programs then actually recovering from their addictions. Sanibel for its time would have been considered a very nice place for a 'lunatic' to be sent to; however for someone in Iris' place it is a living nightmare because she has been sent there by her husband who is a plantation owner and who during their marriage has treated her more like one of his slaves than his wife. Also Iris though she grew up the daughter of a pastor; and believing that a wife should submit to her husband also grew up believing that slavery was wrong and that one man did not have the right to own another; so in the beginning of their courtship her husband had her fooled with the belief that the only reason he had slaves was because it was a necessity in the South so he really had no choice in the matter if he wanted his plantation to run smooth and to survive; however she finds out quickly in the beginning and throughout the duration of her marriage if you can call it that and not just her husbands 'ownership' of her as a woman that he is a cruel master not just of her but of all his slaves. And when she chooses to not follow all his commands and the social pressures of the time and commits a grave sin against him and the societal pressures of the south and its precidents for a 'southern belle' he ships her off to Sanibel Asylum where it is Dr.Cowell's job to cure her and send her back home to be a good Southern wife.

This novel provided the reader with a great look into not only the life of a woman in in 1860's and 1870's in America during the Civil War but also the early Women's movement and why it was so necessary and how it started in its early years. The storyline of the novel follows Iris and her journey through her arrival at the Sanitarium and her meeting Ambrose; another inmate at the sanitarium (he is a young soldier who is recovering from his time in the Civil war). It also follows her treatment by Dr.Cowell and his feelings towards her and the other inmates; and the storyline outlines his and others feelings towards 'lunatics' during this time period and different treatments that were applied to them which I found very interesting since psychology is the field that both my degrees are in. The storyline goes back and forth mainly between Dr.Cowell, his son Wendell, Iris, and the young soldier she falls in love with. The writing was beautifully done and very smooth I would recommend this book to anyone even if its not a subject you would usually choose to read about; it is a storyline that will easily keep your interest; and characters that will literally steal your heart. The only problem I had was I did not care for the ending but no book is perfect right? ;)
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