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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  5,511 Ratings  ·  553 Reviews
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 brilliant and magnetic sculptor who has been confined to the hospital for murdering his wife in a psychotic rage.

But Stella's knowledge of Edgar's c
Paperback, Vintage Contemporaries, 254 pages
Published March 3rd 1998 by Vintage (first published 1996)
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Rodger Stanier As described, she is beautiful, and interesting and vulnerable.
She likes a drink so when she's not being moody she's probably a bit of a laugh!

Community Reviews

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Paul Bryant
Nov 20, 2007 rated it it was ok
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."
Bark's Book Nonsense
Apr 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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 I bought it five years ago at a library sale according to the withdrawn library stamp.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
Michael Fierce
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Patrick McGrath
Recommended to Michael Fierce by: long-ponytail-haired ex-employee of The Dark Carnival, Berkeley, CA
Shelves: gothic


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.
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
Dec 12, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
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
Anna Janelle
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jo Reads
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Follia è una storia d'amore. Ossessiva, compulsiva, folle, ma comunque, una storia d'amore. Devo dire che non so ancora quanto mi sia piaciuto questo romanzo. Credo di non essere stata in grado di apprezzare il lato quasi onirico della psicologia di Stella, la protagonista. Non sono riuscita a capirla, mai. Quindi i miei sentimenti riguardo al suo personaggio restano confusi. Credo, comunque, che lo scopo dell'autore fosse questo. Regalarci una protagonista che non avremmo mai potuto capire o ac ...more
Chiara Selene
È sicuramente una lettura interessante, l'ho finito in pochi giorni proprio perché è molto scorrevole e ha una storia accattivante, nonostante questo ha qualche difetto, in particolare a livello stilistico non è questo gran capolavoro... i dialoghi e la vicenda sono a tratti irrealistici e troppo melodrammatici, così come posso dire che ho sentito molto la "mano dello scrittore".
La particolarità più bella invece è stato il parallelismo creato tra stagioni, clima e natura (descritti molto bene)
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Fascinating, dysfunctional tale of obsessive love.
Jenn Ravey
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
"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
Vi siete immedesimati con la protagonista di questo libro?
La mia risposta è: dovreste stare in un ospedale psichiatrico, non qui.
Non vi siete immedesimati? Allora avete potuto assistere, senza coinvolgimenti di sorta, alla bella e tormentata storia narrata in "Follia".
Sì, meglio così.
Perché l'autore, tale Patrick McGrath, riesce in modo notevole a declinare, attraverso un romanzo sapientemente cadenzato nei ritmi, tutte le caratteristiche insite in quelle sei lettere del titolo: F-o-l-l-i-a.
E l
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Il romanzo narra la storia torbida, di amore malato, tra Edgar Stark, paziente uxoricida di un ospedale psichiatrico inglese e Stella Raphael, moglie di uno degli psichiatri che lavorano nella struttura. Tramite l’occhio clinico del narratore, anch’egli psichiatra, viene descritto il declino della donna, trascinata da sentimenti malati in un vortice di decadenza e squallore.
Ciò che strega, più della storia in sé, è la scrittura, davvero ipnotica e ammaliante, nonché l’analisi costante a cui ven
Ridge Cresswell
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Di come ci si possa rovinare, sparpagliando danni tutt'intorno, per una specie d'amore... O, meglio, per una passione scriteriata, che McGrath descrive servendosi dello sguardo laterale di uno psichiatra, con i protagonisti e la storia allora freddi - molto freddi -, da caso clinico.
Una lettura - per andare al sodo - piuttosto deludente rispetto alle aspettative (tre stelle arrotondando per eccesso).
Cristina Lee
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Quanto può essere folle un'essere umano? Quante sfumature può avere, la follia?
Si può essere pazzi... D'amore?

Stella vive un'esistenza agiata, moglie di Max, vicedirettore di un ospedale psicologico a cui non manca nulla. Una bella casa, auto, famiglia. Trascorre le giornate facendo da madre, cuoca, casalinga. Trascorre giornate uguali, piatte e monotone. Finché un giorno non conosce Edgar, paziente del manicomio a cui viene affidato il compito di ristrutturare la serra della casa in cui
Jul 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
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
May 07, 2009 rated it did not like it
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!
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Arybo ✨
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Profondo romanzo psicologico, dove una voce narrante illustra la storia di Stella ed Edgar: lei, moglie di uno psichiatra, si innamora di un paziente rinchiuso nel manicomio penitenziario dove si sono trasferiti da poco. O forse non si innamora, dato che il libro racconta una storia che ha mille sfaccettature e può essere letta in molti modi diversi a seconda di chi legge. Infatti, ho letto il libro in occasione di un gruppo di lettura reale, e all’incontro che si è svolto per la discussione del ...more
Emma Darcy
Feb 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Oh, Stella :/

The Next Day: This book is about how an emotionally vulnerable and alienated woman is so incredibly mishandled by all of the men in her life that everyone's lives are ruined. Seriously, Stella is pretty with it in the beginning, barring a cold marriage and a bit of a drinking problem from her isolation. But after entering a sexually obssessive affair with a mental patient who is an attractive but volatile paranoid, she is systematically abused and taken advantage of by every man she
Jonathan Briggs
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gothic, psychological
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
Jun 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-fic
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
Nov 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Camilla P.
Nov 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un libro dove la Follia alberga in ogni pagina, ogni parola, prendendo alla sprovvista il lettore. Non si può fare a meno di identificarsi in ogni personaggio, e trovarsi a capire Perchè abbiano fatto quella tale azione, e improvvisamente rendersi conto che quella è Follia, e noi siamo immedesimati in un Pazzo.
Pazzo è l'Amore tra Stella ed Edgar, pazzo il rapporto tra tutti i personaggi, Folle è persino lo psichiatra che studia il tutto sin dall'inizio. Follia in questo libro è ogni cosa, e in u
Irene Carmina
Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Started and finished this while I was away on vacation. I was so looking forward to this as an engrossing guilty pleasure but the writing and plot felt incredibly stale. This was completely do the the POV as the story was entirely told from the perspective of a psychiatrist from the hospital and not from one of the major characters. Having a story told to me as a recount of what someone else recounts to someone else (the woman telling the psychiatrist what occurred) was INCREDIBLY dull and took ...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, traded
"Tragedy isn't as rare a feature of life as we sometimes imagine," and boy, does this book prove the quote. The depth of suffering and impotence is only bested by the expressions of delusion. The author expertly weaves a story of constant cause and effect, reminding the reader that our decisions have consequences not just for ourselves but for others, and sometimes it's nearly impossible to live with them.
Angus McKeogh
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Pleasantly surprised. A psychological novel about a psychiatrist whose wife falls in love with a patient (and murderer) at an asylum. More than I expected.
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Not a "real" novel 2 45 Aug 04, 2013 12:49AM  
An imaginary book? 1 21 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.
More about Patrick McGrath...
“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.” 6 likes
“The uncanny first impression was again one of private hells coexisting in public space.” 3 likes
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