Saturday, August 4, 2012

Blue Asylum - Review

Title: Blue Asylum
Author: Kathy Hepinstall
Source: Library, read about it on BookBelle

Goodreads Summary:

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.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book and its well-written poetic language.  The language was hypnotic and entrancing, and so calming, especially the blue imagery.. like cobalt glass, like wedding flowers, like shining soul light..these images were meant to calm the patients when they were upset, to imagine all the cool blue things they could. And they were calming, to the character and the reader.  

I loved the characters, all of them so sad and lost. Especially Ambrose, a Civil War vet suffering from PTSD.  He is doing very well and responding to the treatments, and only wishes to get better and return home a sane man.  Iris isn't sad or crazy though, she is alert and angry, and she shakes the asylum up with her vitality and arguments. She was committed against her will, because she had defied her husband, and since it was the Civil War era, women are supposed to listen to their husbands, not defy them. So therefore she must be insane and institutionalized.   Their other characters include an interesting mix of fellow hospital mates, the Dr. and his family, and the staff, mainly Chef, the Matron and the guy who watches the canoe, all who have their parts to play in this story.

As much as I liked Iris, she made some poor, very arrogant decisions that had terrible consequences. I try not to spoil the endings, so I won't say much except for the end of this book made the entirety of the book seem futile and just a waste of time.  I feel Iris didn't accomplish as much as she wanted, and although her actions are attempted to be justified in one sentence, I wasn't buying it.  I enjoyed this book, right up until the end - then the ending I knew was coming did.  All in all, I really did enjoy this book and story.  I felt it was well written, almost like poetry in parts.  I just thought the main chracter Iris made some poor choices that other people ended up paying for. 

******I have been thinking about this book.  When I wrote this review, I was kind of mad at Iris.  I didn't like what happened.  But as I have been thinking about it, I realize I probably would have done the same thing if I were her. :( 8-8-2012)*****

The book trailer, in case you like them.  I am hit or miss, but I saw this one and it made me want to read the book!


  1. Maybe I'll take this one off of my TBR. I'm glad you provided a review.

    1. I did like it, except for the end. It made me mad. But I still liked it. If that makes sense. Lol. I would maybe still read it.


I love hearing from people, don't be shy! I would love to hear what you think! I always reply back, although it takes me a bit longer these days due to the little guy.