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Mad Richard

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  57 ratings  ·  28 reviews
A riveting story of talent and the price it exacts, set in a richly imagined Victorian England

Called the most promising artist of his generation, handsome, modest, and affectionate, Richard Dadd rubbed shoulders with the great luminaries of the Victorian Age. He grew up along the Medway with Charles Dickens and studied at the Royal Academy Schools under the brilliant and
Paperback, 360 pages
Published March 14th 2017 by ECW Press
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3.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  57 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Jenna (Falling Letters)
Mar 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, canadian, 2017
First impressions upon finishing: Hm. Not the sort of thing I read regularly, but I think it was pretty good!

Review originally posted 5 April 2017 at Falling Letters. I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

ECW Press, an independent Canadian publisher, has become my go-to for finding new fiction that expands my reading horizons. The linking of two historical figures not popularly known to have interacted and the “questions about art and artists, class, obsession and
Jan O'Brien
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Mad Richard moves deftly between the lives of novelist Charlotte Brontë and the obscure artist Richard Dadd. They are an unlikely pair to pull together but Lesley Krueger is a gifted writer who weaves an intriguing tale rich in historical detail and compelling characters.
The book opens with Brontë, one of the most acclaimed authors of her time, visiting Dadd in Bedlam, the madhouse where he has lived for the last 10 years. This brief encounter, the only direct meeting between them, opens the doo
Nicole Beaudry
I have to say, this is the type of book that I should love. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough psychological portrait, not quite enough action, not quite enough understanding the link between Dadd and Brontë - the whole thing felt scattered and disorganized, and unfortunately not in a way intended to reflect Dadd's inner turmoil. Some passages were quite compelling, but ultimately it felt as though Krueger might have benefited from a more exacting editor. Not an unenjoyable read, but one that ...more
Chaya Nebel
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
This was a Goodreads giveaway.

I am a fan of historical fiction, so this novel, which imagines the inner and outer lives of both artist Richard Dadd and novelist Charlotte Bronte, appealed to me. The author imagines a meeting between the pair, which serves (only) as a starting point for the comparison of the two figures, and also serves as a jumping off place for the author's themes of the artistic temperament, the life and challenges of an artist, the relationships both familial and other, which
Prairie Fire  Review of Books
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
From Review by Dana Hansen.

Lesley Krueger—A distant relative of the Victorian era painter Richard Dadd— creates a generous and thoughtful portrait of the once-promising artist’s descent into madness, murder, and imprisonment in London’s Bethlem Royal Hospital’s psychiatric facility, infamously known as Bedlam.

Dadd is not the only artist to feature in Mad Richard; the novel begins in 1853 with a visit to Bedlam by writer Charlotte Bronte. She is trying to determine the subject of
Sep 21, 2016 rated it liked it
I was disappointed in "Mad Richard," which has a promising presence and gets off to a fine start but unravels toward an unsatisfying end.

The character of Richard Dadd himself--artist, brother, and finally insane and a killer--is, believe it or not, not very compelling. The part of the story that I found interesting is Charlotte Bronte, about to publish "Villette," visits Richard in Bedlam. She's considering taking her writing in a new direction, toward the social realism currently popular throug
Jacinta Carter
Jan 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Based on the true story about painter Richard Dadd, Mad Richard provides a fictionalized version of his life from his difficult childhood, through his success as an artist, and leading to his eventual turn to madness and murder. It also weaves in Dadd's frequent interactions with up-and-coming author Charles Dickens and his one-time meeting with Charlotte Bronte shortly before her death. The history of Dadd's life was interesting and the characters who populate this novel are well-developed and ...more
Nov 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This novel is beautifully crafted, and as a history lover, it makes my inner Victorian incredibly happy, telling the lesser-known story of Richard Dadd, while also pulling in more famous figures, like Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, and Elizabeth Gaskell, among others. The novel highlights the complex relationship that exists between art and its creator, and thoughtfully weaves together Dadd's and Bronte's stories, exploring the purpose and the burden of creative work. It is gorgeous and sad ...more
Tonstant Weader
May 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
The idea that great art exacts a great price is common. Perhaps we like the idea of the tortured artist because it makes it easier for us to be content with our lesser talents. We may not be geniuses, but at least we aren’t Van Gogh, or Sylvia Plath, or in the story of Mad Richard , Richard Dadd and Charlotte Brontē.

Author Lesley Krueger begins her book with a meeting between Dadd and Brontē after Dadd is institutionalized a criminally insane after committing a murder. This meeting is the ration
Susan McGrath
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
I received a free digital review copy of Mad Richard by Lesley Krueger from the publisher (ECW Press) through a Shelf Awareness giveaway.

I will confess that when I received the review copy, I had mostly forgotten exactly what the book was. All that I remembered was that it involved a man’s descent into madness. I could not remember if it was fiction or non-fiction. I quickly learned that this is harder to sort out when you have a digital copy. There is no back cover to refer to, no spine with a
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Another read to challenge myself. It was worth it.

This is not only the story of Richard Dadd but also of Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens. I knew relatively little of Bronte and Dickens and absolutely nothing about Dadd. I was like a fresh canvas ready to absorb all there was to learn.

Lesley Krueger made me look up a fair amount of words while reading her novel, for this I thank you ! I’ve added chiaroscuro and pusillanimous to my ever growing list of new and unusual to me words. She really
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Starting with Charlotte Brontë and her visit with Dadd in Bedlam, the one visit between them, and the jumping off point for Brontë’s and Kruegers exploration of the genesis of artistic genius, and the role that childhood, experiences and learning play into their craft and ultimate ends. While one would not instantly equate the two, Krueger uses reflections and inner dialogue from both to help set the scene and provide plenty of “I never thought of it that way’ moments for readers.

When we look a
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the fictionalized history of Victorian artist Richard Dadd, and of Charlotte Brontë's last two years. Krueger links the two through a visit that Brontë made to Bedlam to meet Dadd, and through their mutual acquaintances in the world of Victorian literature. Charles Dickens is also featured, and several prominent artists have cameos.

The link between Brontë and Dadd is tenuous--and did they actually meet outside of Krueger's mind?--and yet the novel flows easily back and forth between the
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Interesting conjecture about what would happen if writer Charlotte Bronte and mad murderer Richard Dadd met. The story opens with scenes from Bedlam, a psychiatric hospital where Dadd is a patient and Bronte a visitor was interesting. Tidbits about Charles Dicken reflect another aspect of the period. While the language was appropriate and the culture portray realistically, there was little depth to the characters. Dadd was mentally ill. Bronte quest as a writer is overshadowed by her role as wif ...more
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Richard Dadd and Charlotte Bronte. Two actual historical figures but here imagined in a fictional version of their lives which stays close to real life and feels very authentic. Dadd was a gifted and talented artist who became mentally ill and ended up committed as criminally insane in Bedlam. In 1853 Charlotte Bronte visited him there and felt a connection between them. That connection is only perhaps tangential but it allows the author to explore issues of genius, fame and madness in a convinc ...more
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mad Richard is Richard Dadd, an artist in the Victorian age. He was a real person, and he showed great promise. Which was good; his father had decided that was what Richard would do. Another son he directed to take over the pharmacy; another was consigned to manual labor. Richard’s father was a bit of a control freak where his children were concerned. We first meet Dadd in the Bethlem Royal Hospital-the infamous Bedlam asylum- in 1853, when he meets Charlotte Bronte, also, obviously, a real pers ...more
Emily Woodbeck
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting narrative that weaves together the life of an author and an artist. The insight into genius and Dadd's views on the purpose of his art were my favourite parts of the story, along with his descent into madness. Great to see something interesting and thought provoking and find out afterwards it is from a Canadian author. Will definitely lend this one out.
Justine Lewkowicz
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a book for bibliophiles, for writers and artists.

Lesley Krueger brings to life one of the most respected authors of the 19th century, Charlotte Bronte, with the great Charles Dickens making appearances as well.

Then there’s Mad Richard, Richard Dadd, the artist who painted fairies to escape his mind. Krueger’s interpretation of his madness makes him a mesmerizing character.

She dissects the minds of Bronte and Dadd to demonstrate the struggle artists go through as they try to create a p
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the Charlotte Bronte chapters, but my eyes generally glazed over during the Richard Dadd chapters. And altogether, I just didn't get it.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I read an advance reader's copy of this before publication.

Fascinating story and the author has a lovely way with words. I applaud her research and her ability to capture the historical feeling of the characters. My only issue with it was that it jumped around a lot and was very hard to follow at times. If I weren't so interested in the actual historical people, I wouldn't have finished it.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
see my review at Reading World.
Elspeth G. Perkin
The many contrasts and shades of Richard Dadd, Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens

I admit it took me several attempts in the beginning to keep reading this tale of the certain degrees of separation of 19th-century geniuses in art and literature. There were numerous different themes and unfortunate confusing streaky timelines of presented lives and trials that it lost me more than once. The writing was simply eccentrically beautiful overall though and the chapters regarding Charlotte Brontë defi
Sep 27, 2016 rated it liked it
This book has many elements that appeal to me, particularly that it is an exploration of creativity and the artistic temperament, and also presents a vivid picture of Victorian England.
As a former student of Victorian literature and painting, I loved the peek into Charles Dickens' personality and social presence as well as the look at Mrs. Gaskell's domestic life through Charlotte Bronte's eyes.

In many ways, this was a book written to appeal to someone just like me. But, it didn't: I found almos
Jun 02, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
for a full review visit

This is normally the type of book I devour, historical fiction and historical texts. However, this book just left me feeling confused and frustrated. It lacked cohesiveness, and the link between Bronte and Dadd was loose and confused. The parts about Bronte seemed almost an afterthought and for me did nothing to add to the story. attention to historical detail was on point, which I did love, as that is very important to me in a hist
Nov 13, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a Goodreads win review. This is a story that takes place in an imagined Victorian England.
Virginia Campbell
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Jun 10, 2017
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Dec 02, 2017
Colleen Goodrich
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Sep 01, 2017
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Jul 24, 2017
Emily Ferko
rated it it was amazing
Mar 11, 2017
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Lesley Krueger is an award-winning Canadian novelist and filmmaker. Her new novel, Mad Richard, has just been published in both the US and Canada by ECW Press. She has published three previous novels, two works of non-fiction and a book of short stories. Lesley has also released two original e-books -- one for adults and one for teens. Both are available from Amazon, as are her previous novel, The ...more
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