by Kathy Hepinstall
Genre: Historical Fiction
Synopsis: Amid the mayhem of the Civil War, Virginia plantation wife Iris Dunleavy is put on trial and convicted of madness. It is the only reasonable explanation the court can see for her willful behavior, so she is sent away to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a good, compliant woman. Iris knows, though, that her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of disagreeing with him on notions of justice, cruelty, and property.
On this remote Florida island, cut off by swamps and seas and military blockades, Iris meets a wonderful collection of residents--some seemingly sane, some wrongly convinced they are crazy, some charmingly odd, some dangerously unstable. Which of these is Ambrose Weller, the war-haunted Confederate soldier whose memories terrorize him into wild fits that can only be calmed by the color blue, but whose gentleness and dark eyes beckon to Iris.
The institution calls itself modern, but Iris is skeptical of its methods, particularly the dreaded "water treatment." She must escape, but she has found new hope and love with Ambrose. Can she take him with her? If they make it out, will the war have left anything for them to make a life from, back home?
Blue Asylum is a vibrant, beautifully-imagined, absorbing story of the lines we all cross between sanity and madness. It is also the tale of a spirited woman, a wounded soldier, their impossible love, and the undeniable call of freedom.
From the author's website
Review: This book was strange. It sounded so good from the synopsis but there were quite a few scenes that seemed unnecessary and just so bizarre. As I was reading I was hoping it was going to get better so I kept reading but it didn't. I felt really bad for Iris because no one believed the truth. Everyone thought she was crazy because the judge ruled her crazy but no one listened to her because she was a woman and clearly men know better. That made me a little mad. I think the book would have been better if it would have gone deeper into Iris' and Ambrose's lives and into their relationship. I think there was too much story about other characters and it didn't seem relevant to the rest of the story.
Rating: 2 stars