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Asylum

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  3,249 ratings  ·  346 reviews
From our most celebrated writer of the psychological thriller comes this nerve-wracking yet eerily beautiful work of erotic obsession and madness.

In the summer of 1959 Stella Raphael joins her psychiatrist husband, Max, at his new posting--a maximum-security hospital for the criminally insane. Beautiful and headstrong, Stella soon falls under the spell of Edgar Stark, a br
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Paperback, Vintage Contemporaries, 254 pages
Published March 3rd 1998 by Vintage (first published 1996)
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Best Gothic Books Of All Time
65th out of 320 books — 1,767 voters
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Mental Hospital Novels
19th out of 173 books — 552 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul
May 04, 2010 Paul rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
It says on the back this book is a meditation on the nature of love. So, what is love? Love is when someone gently tugs this book out of your hands and says "you don't need to read this one, dear. All the quotes on the back were paid for. It's high class tripe."
Darth Fierce
Sep 21, 2013 Darth Fierce rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Patrick McGrath
Recommended to Darth Fierce by: long-ponytail-haired ex-employee of The Dark Carnival, Berkeley, CA
Shelves: gothic

description

I first discovered Patrick McGrath in 1988 with his often overlooked and under-appreciated short story collection, Blood and Water and Other Tales, and became a huge fan of his from then on.

In 1990, I read his best book to date, The Grotesque.

Both, are amazing pieces of Gothic fiction.

Back in those days it was very difficult to find quality writers following in the footsteps of Edgar Allan Poe, especially those who were able to make their own unique imprint and capable of breaking new ground.
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Bark's Book Nonsense
This has been sitting on the bottom of a huge pile of books in my bedroom that topples over every time one of my dogs flops down for a nap. I'm getting sick of picking them up and will read them from the bottom up. It's like a Survivor Challenge as I wiggle out the bottom book without causing the whole lot to topple upon my head. I bought it five years ago at a library sale according to the withdrawn library stamp. Shameful.

Psychiatrist Peter Cleave tells a supposedly sordid tale of a former pat
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Tony
Sexual obsession, decapitation, enucleation, maternal filicide, psychological unraveling. Or what we call Thursday around here.

A psychiatrist's unhappy wife falls for an artist, institutionalized in a mental hospital for a gruesome murder. It goes without saying this will not end well.

The novel is certainly cinematic but is saved from being a shlock psychological thriller because its narrator is another psychiatrist who in one way or another is treating everyone else involved. So, it is inquisit
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Becky
I don't think I would have ever read this if not for the fact that I saw it on Audible, read by Ian McKellan. How could I resist?

I kinda wish I had, though. Sir Ian's reading was great, don't get me wrong, and he was a perfect reader for the narrator of the story, but the story itself was just so... uneventful.

I thought that this was supposed to be a psychological thriller, but there was absolutely nothing thrilling about it. The narrator is a psychiatrist relating everything to the reader as
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Anna Janelle
Where has this book/author been hiding all my life? Because I'm SERIOUSLY impressed. It's a rare book that makes you want to flip to the beginning IMMEDIATELY after finishing it for a second go-through, but I was tempted with "Asylum." It was that layered, that satisfying, that good. I'm only forgoing it to start Goodreads stalking the author for more books to add to my growing Better World Books order.

The book is a work of art, painted in cold, clinical strokes on an increasingly unreliable can
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Jenn Ravey
"Stella Raphael's story is one of the saddest I know," intones Dr. Peter Cleave, the senior psychiatrist in the mental hospital central to Asylum by Patrick McGrath. Asylum is a story of obsession.

Stella and her husband Max have moved outside London for Max's job. Hoping to eventually become superintendent of the facility, Max is quite involved in the asylum's day-to-day activities, and the couple's home is on the property. Max has big plans, including renovating the conservatory and gardens of
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Rich Cresswell
I had already read one book by Patrick McGrath, The Grotesque, when I picked this one up. This book is more subtle and more beautiful in many ways. Told from the perspective of the main character's friend and eventual psychiatrist, it follows the arc of a desperate, obsessive love, and reactions to the loss of said love. McGrath's prose gives us a perfect window into the setting, mood, and overall feeling of each scene, all the while colored with the emotions of the narrator. It's a strange sort ...more
Sharron
This book is totally pointless and depressing. The only thing going for the audio version is the narration by Sir Ian McKellan. There was not a single sympathetic or positive character, not much atmosphere or sense of place, and little motivation for some of the odder events. This book didn't teach me anything, didn't entertain me, and didn't inspire any insight or thinking on my part -- a total waste of time!
Marvin
Asylum is almost old fashioned. It has a Gothic ring to it and although it is set in 1959, the setting feels a bit older. The plot starts out as a strange love story. The wife of the superintendent of a mental asylum falls for a charismatic schizophrenic artist who is clearly dangerous for all involved. Yet the tale is narrated by the artist's psychiatrist and while he starts out as a neutral narrator in a style that slightly mimics a clinical case study, we slowly discover that this may also be ...more
Jonathan Briggs
Max Raphael is all set to take over the administration of a mental hospital when his wife, Stella, gets a look at Edgar Stark, one of the prize patients. He's dreamy, rugged, artistic. Everything that Max is not. So Edgar chopped his wife's head off, we all have our little quirks. Stella helps Edgar escape, and they're off to live like bohemians in London. But Stella discovers life in an artist's loft with a psychotic sculptor prone to violent fits of jealous rage isn't quite the domestic bliss ...more
Paula
I agree with some other comments, based on the jacket you are expecting a sordid tawdry story. In reality, the events are told with a clinical psychiatrist at the helm, describing the events of his patients life and downfall as he understands them. He does skip the juicy bits, so if you're looking for smutty you will be disappointed. Literally speaking I thought it was a very good book. The author has a wonderful command of the English language and with concise writing and the detachment (or not ...more
Emily
Jul 17, 2013 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily by: feltre
"Απαγορευμένο πάθος" ή αλλιώς "Πώς να καταστραφείτε εύκολα και ανέξοδα".
Πολύ πάθος και πολλή εμμονή.
Ήσουνα κυρία μου με όλα σου τα καλά. Σύζυγος ψυχιάτρου με λαμπρή προοπτική να γίνει υποδιευθυντής. Είχες το παιδάκι σου, την ανυπόφορη πεθερούλα σου που σε επισκεπτόταν στη χάση και στη φέξη, την οικονομική σου άνεση, τα λούσα σου...
Τι τον ήθελες τον έρωτα με τον τρόφιμο του ψυχιατρείου; Μένει τίποτα κρυφό κάτω από τον ήλιο;
Και καλά. Έκανες ό,τι έκανες, δηλαδή το καταγλέντησες. Είδες και την άλλη
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Andrea
Scritto con maestria e con stile diretto e pulito, il racconto di Peter, Edgar, Stella e Max scorre come un fiume attraverso situazioni che cambieranno per sempre la natura del loro spirito.
I fatti si svolgono nell'Inghilterra del 1959. Peter è l'io narrante, uno psichiatra che lavora all'interno di un tetro manicomio criminale vittoriano e che comincia a raccontare, con apparente distacco, il caso clinico più perturbante che abbia incontrato in carriera.
In primo piano, l'evoluzione dei pensieri
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R.J.
I saw the film first. Knew the book must be better. It was and yet, for all the acclaim, i didn't know the protagonist, Stella, very well or what motivated her. Perhaps that was the entire premise.

The story set in 1959-60. The wife of a 2nd in command psychiatrist at a English countryside mental hospital, falls in lust then love with one of the patients, an artist, confined for brutally murdering his wife.

The book/tale is told by a male, another psychiatrist at the hospital who is treating the
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Victoria
A VERY different sort of tragic love story. Though the setting is in the early 1960s, this tale has a true Victorian-Gothic feel to it. And the narration! How fascinating for the narrator to not have his own pull until the end of the book! That in and of itself makes the book cry for re-reading, for discussion - even for study. It's impossible to really understand the characters - the two main lovers - as their individual acts are horrific, but at the same time, horrifyingly fascinating.
I truly
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Claudia
Stella è la moglie annoiata e soffocata di uno psichiatra, relegata in un matrimonio ormai bianco. La sua vita e le sue giornate scorrono uguali e grigie nella villa acquistata in prossimità del manicomio criminale dove lavora Max, il marito. Improvvisamente qualcosa cambia: conosce Edgar, uno dei pazienti più enigmatici del manicomio, in cura da Peter, voce narrante del romanzo. Tra i due la passione scoppia incontenibile, incontrollabile, insana. Stella abbandonerà tutto e tutti, compreso il f ...more
Maria
Di passione violenta è la dipendenza che si introduce furtivamente nel cuore di Stella, vittima inconsapevole di un uomo in apparenza razionale ed equilibrato.
Parlare d'amore è un azzardo però.
L'amore, quello vero, sottende una relazione tendenzialmente sana.

Versione completa qui: http://startfromscratchblog.blogspot....
Irene Carmina
Magnetico, incalzante, sensuale. Follia, nel titolo italiano, è un capolavoro di magnetismo: come Edgar per Stella, la follia d'amore incolla il lettore al libro con una suspence da giallo tutta incentrata sull'erotismo malato che anima i due protagonisti e sul desiderio inconscio di essere posseduti dal veleno dolce della passione. Quando lo lessi rimasi affascinata dalla sete di lettura che ha instillato in me questo libro. Non riuscivo a smettere di leggere.
Ancora una pagina, ancora una pagi
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Suzanne
So...

You know that feeling when the victim in a horror film suddenly realizes that the killer is inside the house, but instead of running out the front door, they run UP THE STAIRS. Why the hell are you running up the stairs?!!! you yell at the tv. OH GREAT, yes, that closet looks like a PERFECT place to hide. You're really maximizing your options for escape there.

That's how I felt watching Stella Raphael navigate her personal situations in Asylum. At nearly every turn, I thought NO NOT UP THE S
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Luana

Stella mi disse di aver capito in quel momento che in ciascuno di noi c’è come l’anelito a gridare al mondo la verità, a qualsiasi costo. O a distruggersi.



La prima cosa che ho pensato terminata la lettura di questo romanzo è stata: Patrick McGrath mi ha presa per i fondelli per tutta la lettura. Insomma, o mi ha presa per i fondelli, o davvero questo romanzo ha venduto migliaia di copie imbastito con i migliori tessuti della fiera delle banalità. So che solitamente si inizia a parlare dall’inizi
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Kathleen Valentine
Stella Raphael has it all, beauty, brains, a position in society, a devoted husband, a darling son. When she accompanies her husband to his new position at a maximum-security prison for the criminally insane everything she has suddenly becomes secondary to what she wants – the love of an incarcerated sculptor convicted of murdering his wife and mutilating her body. This is a story that is almost painful at times to read. Stella, for all she has in the world, seems to know nothing of how the worl ...more
Kelanth, numquam risit ubi dracones vivunt
Un libro particolare: intenso, divorante, tragico, ossessivo, emozionante e coinvolgente. La scrittura di MacGrath è senza dubbio avvincente, intrigante, ben cadenzata e la storia nella sua drammaticità scorre velocemente. La Follia traspare dalle pagine in ogni riga, ma chi è il vero folle? Stella, la protagonista principale che diventa succube di un amore ossessivo? Edgar, amante già uxoricida e rinchiuso per questo nel manicomio criminale che manipola Stella ma che cade anche lui nel vortice ...more
Melody
Set in Britain during the 1950s, this is a story narrated by Dr Peter Cleave, a psychiatrist over an incident which happened to the Raphaels during his work at a countryside mental institution. Stella Raphael, who is the lead character of this story, is supposed to have a happy family. After all, she and her husband has a ten-year-old son and her husband has the hope of becoming the next superintendent at the mental institution. However, she has done the unthinkable and has an affair with Edgar ...more
Serenity
Asylum, as stated above, is the sordid tale of a married woman and her obsessive and ultimately tragic love for a patient in a mental institute.

That said, the entire novel is written from the prospective of an outsider. Namely, the therapist who is outlining the events chronologically as he is told them by Stella, the married woman in question. That in itself would not be so much of a problem, if he had gone more in depth with the details of the tragic events as they enfolded. However, to the c
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Mike
I was pleasantly surprised to realise that Patrick McGrath's Asylum would allow me to reacquaint myself with the gothic novel. It hadn't been presented to me as such. Essentially, I was told it to be a psychological thriller in which passion was pitted against reason in a battle for one woman's existence.

As far as premises go, it's rather spot-on, but the execution is deliberately and wholly gothic, as chilling mysteries, unspoken evils and appalling consequences await Stella, the main protagoni
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CoffeeBook Chick
This is my first time reading a Patrick McGrath story. It will not be my last. I don't know how I haven't come across his work before, and I feel I have to catch up on all that I've missed out on.

Normally, I finish a book and immediately pronounce to myself whether it was good or bad, and then I'm off to the next selection from my burgeoning bookshelves. It's been awhile, however, since I closed the pages of a story and had to sit and reflect for a few moments afterwards. Without question, this
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Kristi
I wasn't all that impressed with this book. I found Stella to be an outright idiot to be honest. I couldn't sympathize with her or put myself in her place or make any sort of connection with her. All I really wanted to do is slap her up along the side of the head and shake her violently while yelling, "What were you thinking?!"

This book does not take place in an asylum as the title might lead one to believe. It does deal with mental patients, psychiatry, and there is a mental hospital that's ver
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Gabriela
Such relationships vary widely in duration and intesity but tend to pass through the same stages. Recognition. Identification. Assignation. Structure. Complication. And so on.

She should have know that deception eats away all that is wholesome in a marriage, and she should have faced this, but she didn't. She chose not to. From this evasion all else followed.

Though she was starting to doubt that he was mentally ill. She thought he was guilty of a crime of passion; and passion, in essence, was goo
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★Loredana★
Le storie d’amore catastrofiche contraddistinte da ossessione sessuale sono un mio interesse professionale ormai da molti anni… questo mi è sembrato un incipit come tanti, all’inizio… eppure mi riecheggiava più volte nel corso della lettura… quando leggevo e cercavo di capire, entravo e cercavo di ambientarmi nelle stanze inquietanti di questo manicomio inglese degli anni ’50, nelle casette perfette tenute in ordine dalle mogli dei dottori, nei giardini fioriti e curati dai malati meno pericolos ...more
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Not a "real" novel 2 39 Aug 04, 2013 12:49AM  
An imaginary book? 1 18 Jun 24, 2009 09:37PM  
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Patrick McGrath was born on 7th February, 1950 in London and grew up near Broadmoor Hospital where his father was Medical Superintendent. He was educated at Stonyhurst College. He is a British novelist whose work has been categorized as gothic fiction. He is married to actress Maria Aitken and lives in New York City.
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“Stella realized then that Charlie's unhappiness had locked him out of this community as effectively as hers had, and she felt a dull sense of confirmation, she felt she might have known, this is the nature of people, they unerringly select as their victim the one who most needs their warmth.” 4 likes
“Aveva perso il controllo. Non si controlla un innamoramento, mi disse, non è possibile. E la divertiva che fosse potuto accadere in questo modo, con quest'uomo. Un paziente. Un paziente che lavorava nell'orto. Stella, le dissi, non potevi fare una scelta più scriteriata. La verità, mi rispose, è che non ho scelto affatto.” 2 likes
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