Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
Louisa Cosgrove is going to spend some time with friends of the family in the country. It’s Victorian England and that is the sort of thing young ladies do. However, Lou never arrives at her perceived destination. Instead she arrives at Wildthorn, a mental institution where everyone is convinced that her true name is Lucy Childs and she is just too mad to know it. Who has committed her? Why? How can she possibly get away?
This is a great view of the inner workings of an asylum of the time. It’s a harsh and unjust place and brings up a disturbing question: how do you convince those who believe you are crazy that you are not? Is it even possible?
Spoiler: this historical novel with a huge psychological element is also the story of one girl’s awakening into herself. She discovers that she is a lesbian and comes to terms with her feelings. Yet another spoiler: it is refreshing that her sexual preferences are not the reason she is committed (when in that time period it could have been). No, there are more sinister goings on afoot that Louisa is going to be challenged to discover and devastated to know.