Set amidst Civil War America, this is the story of one woman who discovers not only herself through a series of struggles she must overcome but also wSet amidst Civil War America, this is the story of one woman who discovers not only herself through a series of struggles she must overcome but also what and whom she is willing to fight for and risk her life for.
Iris Dunleavy is on the verge of becoming an old maid and must choose a husband quickly before she falls into disrepute. The man she marries, however, turns out to be a "monster," a word she uses to describe him. Being a deacon in his local church, her husband should not have been like all of the other plantation owners she had heard tell of, whipping and beating slaves, violating the women, and so on. But she soon discovers the truth about this man she thought she loved. Hoping to help these men and women who worked the plantation, she aided in their escape, running away with them herself. Too soon, however, they are caught.
Robert, Iris' husband, sends her away to a lunatic's asylum, believing her to be insane to have not only let slaves escape but to have gone with them herself. Iris, however, doesn't just believe that she is sane--she knows it. How could it be that someone who was simply compassionate and sought to save the souls of mistreated individuals is insane? And she tries to convince the stubborn British doctor of the asylum of this fact, but he refuses to believe her. He tries wholeheartedly to first convince of her insanity and then to "cure" her of it before she can be sent back to her husband.
During her stint at this hospital, Iris plans the second escape attempt of her life. She must get out of this asylum--she is not insane! But an obstacle has been thrown into her path--by providence? by sheer luck? What will Iris do when she finds herself in love with a fellow prisoner of the asylum?
This is one of the best novels I have read in a long time. The writing is spectacular and the character development is spot on. Not once was I distracted from the thread of events woven through the tale. I was intrigued by the plot and turn of events from the first sentence all the way through to the end. This was the first book I have read by this author, and I will be sure to seek out her other novels with the hope that I will have a similar experience with her other novels as I had with this one. Superb job, Ms. Hepinstall!...more