A review of The Asylum by John Harwood

Confused and disoriented, Georgina Ferrars awakens in a small room in Tregannon House, a private asylum in a remote corner of England. She has no memory of the past few weeks. The doctor, Maynard Straker, tells her that she admitted herself under the name Lucy Ashton the day before, then suffered a seizure. When she insists he has mistaken her for someone else, Dr. Straker sends a telegram to her uncle, who replies that Georgina Ferrars is at home with him in London: “Your patient must be an imposter.”

Suddenly her voluntary confinement becomes involuntary. Who is the woman in her uncle’s house? And what has become of her two most precious possessions, a dragonfly pin left to her by her mother and a writing case containing her journal, the only record of those missing weeks? Georgina’s perilous quest to free herself takes us from a cliffside cottage on the Isle of Wight to the secret passages of Tregannon House and into a web of hidden family ties on which her survival depends.

Hardcover, 257 pages
Published May 21st 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 

Now, this is the first John Harwood novel that I’ve read but it left me curious to read his previous novels. You see, 'The Asylum' is well written and contains the usual Victorian Gothic themes of an overly emotional, much too stimulated woman who ‘supposedly’ brings herself to Tregannon Asylum using a different name! When doctors speak to her, her memories are sporadic and she insists that her name is Georgina Ferrars and not Lucy Ashton. Now, this could be a result of a few situations namely a possible doppelganger, a family member trying to get rid of her or something much different. 

John Harwood writes in a very descriptive and detailed manner, so this will both capture your attention and keep you wanting to read further or frustrate you so much that you give up. The plot supports the ending which does contain a twist. I enjoyed the fact that this woman’s identity had to do with letters and the possibility of a future occurrence so important there is a special clause added to someone’s will.  I highly recommend it! I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't find the plot and especially the ending predictable. I enjoyed 'The Asylum' very much and will read his other novels.  I don't want to make this an overly detailed review because with these types of novels, it will ruin the enjoyment of experiencing the characters and the Victorian ambience for yourself! Just enjoy the twists and turns and have fun reading 'The Asylum.'


Thanks for reminding me about this, Kimberly! I had intended to buy it when I first heard about it and then it slipped my mind.
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Stephanie, I hope you enjoy it. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Laura Morrigan said…
I am a big John Harwood fan, I especially loved The Ghost Writer! The Seance was great, too!
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Laura,
I'm definitely reading The Seance next and The Ghost Writer is on my TBR list!
I'm so glad to know you're a John Harwood fan! Looks like he has a fan in me, too!
Thanks for commenting!
Judy said…
Harwood is great. You will enjoy reading more.
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Judy,
I can't wait to read his two other books and will review them as well.
Thanks for stopping by!