Posting some of my reviews for books I read last year, because I have got so behind in updating my blog.
When concert pianist Vivienne Mourdant's father dies, he leaves to her the care of an adult ward she knew nothing about. The woman is supposedly a patient at Hurstwell Asylum. The woman's portrait is shockingly familiar to Vivienne, so when the asylum claims she was never a patient there, Vivienne is compelled to discover what happened to the figure she remembers from childhood dreams.
The longer she lingers in the deep shadows and forgotten towers at Hurstwell, the fuzzier the line between sanity and madness becomes. She hears music no one else does, receives strange missives with rose petals between the pages, and untangles far more than is safe for her to know. But can she uncover the truth about the mysterious woman she seeks? And is there anyone at Hurstwell she can trust with her suspicions?
Fan-favorite Joanna Davidson Politano casts a delightful spell with this lyrical look into the nature of women's independence and artistic expression during the Victorian era--and now.
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Lost Melody was a book which could have been very dark, like a Thomas Hardy novel. His books always leave me depressed. There were certainly Gothic notes, but this book had enough undertones of hope and courage to leave the reader satisfied. It is about a young woman who is convinced she is mad and committed to an Asylum under a false name. Vivienne doesn’t even realize she has been sent there at first, and in the first chapters she is merely searching for someone who was sent to the asylum until it turns out she is, in fact, a patient.
Vivienne knows she’s not mad, but someone wants to make out she is. The longer she stays, the more she finds out there is something strange going on in the asylum. There are “secret” patients they deny the existence of someone is lying about the background of mysterious female patient, and one of the doctors seems to have a connection with her. A connection which he denies, and which he and others will apparently do anything to keep a secret.
Apart from being about the healing and encouraging impact of music, I think I would suggest the other theme of this book is judging by appearances. Vivienne (and others) dismisses many of those in the Hurstwell Asylum as mad or dangerous when they’re not. Many are just struggling with trauma or disability and don’t know how to express themselves. The author’s note also suggests that Victorian Ayslums were not what we think either: the majority of patients were male, not female. It seems like then, as now, mental illness was more common among men.
As Vivienne uncovers the secrets in Hurstwell, she learns that her light can shine even in the darkest of places, and her gift for music can make a difference to any lives even when she does not see its purpose. It also provides a valuable exploration of attitudes to disability, mental health, neurodiversity, and artistic expression. Some beliefs, especially about the former, still have not changed. There are still people who believe people with certain conditions such as PTSD are just bad and dangerous or are simply lazy and need to put effort in to “cure” themselves. Disabled people are still being judged and subject to discrimination now.
Why the slightly lower rating? A few of the usual issues with some language and details which weren’t quite right for the setting, but nothing that was too serious.
I would recommend this for everyone interested in Historical Fiction and clean Fiction with Inspirational overtones.
Thanks to Revell for approving my request for this title on Netgalley. This did not influence my review, and all opinions expressed are my own.
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