Read The Asylum by John Harwood Rosalyn Landor Online


A brilliant new Gothic thriller from the acclaimed author of The Ghost Writer and The Séance.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 beforeA brilliant new Gothic thriller from the acclaimed author of The Ghost Writer and The Séance.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 and 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 journal that contains the only record of those missing weeks? Georgina's perilous quest to free herself takes her 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.Here is another delicious read from the author praised by Ruth Rendell as having "a gift for creating suspense, apparently effortlessly, as if it belongs in the nature of fiction."...

Title : The Asylum
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781482911114
Format Type : Audiobook
Number of Pages : 10 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Asylum Reviews

  • Kris
    2019-05-03 23:51

    I won an ARC of The Asylum from a GR First Reads giveaway, and it came at a great time for me -- the end of the semester, when I needed some light escapist reading. It may sound odd to call The Asylum light reading, given its synopsis: Georgina Ferrars wakes to find herself in Tregannon House, a private asylum in Cornwall. She meets Dr. Maynard Straker, who informs her that she arrived at the asylum having identified herself as Lucy Ashton. She then suffered a seizure with left her with impaired short-term memory--she could remember her name, her childhood, her mother, her aunt, her uncle in London, but she could not remember the last few weeks, arriving at the asylum, or even the clothes or bags she found in her room. Throughout the first section of the novel, Georgina tries frantically to establish her identity, in the face of skepticism from Dr. Straker, from Frederic Mordaunt, the young melancholic whose uncle owned Tregannon House, and from asylum staff. Even her uncle sends a telegram saying that Georgina Ferrars is in residence in his house in London, and that the patient in the asylum must be an imposter. Harwood has written other books inspired by Victorian novels. The Asylum features staples of the genre: women in peril, mistaken identities, complex and hidden relationships among characters, and the roots of present-day conflicts stemming from past tragedies. Ferrars emerges as an overly trusting, but strong and intelligent woman who, in the end, relies on her wits to seek a way out of her confinement. Harwood's pacing moves the narrative along, and his inclusion of a second section consisting of old letters and more recent journal entries provides an effective means to answer questions about the relationship of the distant and recent past to Georgina's present predicament. However, the last section becomes quite unbelievable, even by the standards of these novels, which themselves are built on complex genealogies, incredible coincidences, and hidden motives. There is a sense of Harwood's rushing to find resolution for the novel which is jarring after the way he built dramatic tension in the first two sections of the novel. The villain who ultimately emerges comes across as a two-dimensional stock figure. 3.5 stars for the first two sections, 2 for the last section, leading me to a final (somewhat generous) 3 star rating.

  • Heidi The Hippie Reader
    2019-05-04 23:00

    I didn't enjoy The Asylum, a historical fiction about a woman who wakes up in an asylum with memories that don't match the identity that the staff have assigned to her.It's probably just me. I was listening to the audiobook on my way to and from work, so I took this story in pieces rather than all at once. The majority of the positive reviews seem to be from folks who devoured this in one sitting.Also, things have been stressful at work. So, I brought that baggage to the table as well.The part with the journal entries was particularly disjointed and confusing. I think it was meant to be that way but it just didn't translate well to audiobook.Don't let me deter you. If it's a rainy, cold day outside and you dig dark, historical fiction, you may truly enjoy The Asylum.

  • Wendy Darling
    2019-05-02 00:52

    This might have been a better experience if Fingersmith and Sarah Waters didn't exist. But they do. And the complexity of writing and emotion and character development here pale in comparison. Probably not helped by the fact that the audiobook narrator, Rosalyn Landor, does better at voicing secondary characters than the primary female ones. They not only sound indistinguishable from one another, but are all voiced in strangely placid style, though you really don't get to know them all that well, either. Overall I felt very removed from both the story and the characters, which is quite something considering the various events and circumstances that are meant to be shocking. (view spoiler)[Hey, I slept with my half-sister who schemed to take my inheritance away from me! (hide spoiler)] <---- Execution of that major twist is not nearly as interesting as that sounds. Honestly, the whole (view spoiler)[lesbian/incest (hide spoiler)] subplot felt inorganic and unconvincing, and a bit opportunistic as a result.Plus weird things you're supposed to accept as fact; the plotting isn't nearly as tight as it should be. Bleh.

  • Blair
    2019-04-22 02:08

    Goodreads tells me I have had this, John Harwood's third novel, on my wishlist since October last year. So obviously, when I received an ARC of The Asylum I immediately got stuck into it - despite the frustratingly late UK release date of 20th June (it comes out in May in the US) - and I couldn't put it down until I'd finished. This is an addictively readable and deliciously compelling gothic mystery which grabs your attention on the first page and refuses to let go.The book opens circa 1882 with a young woman, Georgina Ferrars, waking up in an unfamiliar room. At first believing her surroundings are a dream, she soon comes to realise she is an inmate in a lunatic asylum - Tregannon House - with the chief doctor insisting she has admitted herself under the name Lucy Ashton. Unable to recall any memory of the past few days, she is convinced it's all a terrible mistake - until her uncle, with whom she lives, sends a telegram to the asylum saying the 'real' Georgina is safe and well at home.The plot and structure are both pretty simple: Georgina tells her own story, relating her frustration, disbelief and attempts to get out of the asylum, with an interlude devoted to a number of letters written some years earlier by a cousin of Georgina's mother. The story is breathlessly fast-paced and very exciting despite the limited scope of the setting, and the fact that Georgina acts as the narrator adds a further layer of intrigue for the reader - is her conviction that the 'other' Georgina is an impostor reliable? As the evidence mounts up against her, and she struggles to remember even the smallest detail of the weeks leading up to her arrival at Tregannon, the reader is led to believe she may indeed be deluded, or genuinely insane - yet she remains such a likeable, sympathetic character that it's impossible not to hope for her to escape. There are shades of Sarah Waters' work, particularly Fingersmith, in some of the relationships that develop and in the highly emotive depiction of Georgina's imprisonment, and some of the explanations are quite ingenious in their detail while also being simple enough to believe.The only thing really wrong with The Asylum is that its ending spirals out of control a bit, and isn't anywhere near as enjoyable as the rest of the story. As with Harwood's debut The Ghost Writer, it feels as if the author isn't quite sure how to end the book: this results in some rather silly things happening and the 'bad guy' behaving like a pantomime villain, giving conveniently lengthy explanations of all his dastardly plans to anyone within earshot. I also found it highly unlikely that (view spoiler)[Georgina's mother would have instructed the lawyer that Georgina should only receive the letters if she became engaged to Felix - why on earth would she have ever thought this was a possibility when it was so unlikely the two would ever even meet? (hide spoiler)]At first I wondered why a wintery gothic novel would have its release date set for the run-up to summer, but you know what - for those who are more inclined towards the macabre than chick-lit, this would be a perfect beach read. If I say it's fluffy and fun, that sounds like an insult (especially for something that falls into the historical mystery genre), but I honestly don't mean it that way: it's just that it's so purely enjoyable, and irresistibly easy to read quickly. Fans of gothic fiction, get this one on your wishlist now and you can thank me later.

  • Sara
    2019-05-03 23:14

    The majority of this book was a 4 star read for me because I found it so enthralling. The ending was a bit rushed and it was hard to keep track of all the names and people within the story. Overall, I had a good time. It makes me want to read more gothic Victorian books.

  • Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
    2019-05-03 05:04

    This was a dark, complicated and kind of confusing book. There were a few times I had to reread a few pages as the story kind of felt jumpy to me. Interesting story line, I really hoped this was going to be a winner. It fell short some.

  • Cynthia
    2019-05-14 04:14

    “Asylum” is a throwback to the 19th century when Sensationalist writers were all the rage. Think Collins’s “The Moonstone” or even better Braddon’s “Lady Audley’s Secret” or Mrs. Henry Wood’s “East Lynne”. I love this genre and I’m glad to see Harwood embracing it. There are secrets galore and you’re never on solid ground with this story. I was continually guessing and then second guessing where the plot was heading and trying to understand which characters were reliable.The narrative goes back and forth in time and lots of the story is told through letters and diary entries which proves to be an enticing ploy. There’s madness everywhere but is it real? Those who seem to be nuts might just be the most sane and vice versa. No one’s motives are a given..after all happiness, love AND money are involved. Harwood is a master at building atmosphere from the crashing of the sea, to the lonely moors, and then through the halls of an insane asylum. All of them figure in this plot. This is a fun book.This review is based on an advance readers copy supplied by the publisher.(Disclaimer given per FTC requirement.)

  • Linda
    2019-05-22 01:04

    Deeply disappointed in this latest John Harwood offering. I read "The Seance" by this same author and was captivated by that one, passed it on to my daughter who also gave it the thumbs up. I found The Asylum confusing, dark and gloomy throughout. The story, set in the 1800's, moves between past and present centering around Georgia Ferrars our key character. Georgia wakes up in an asylum without knowing how she came to be there. As she gives her account of what she knows what follows at the end of her tale are the versions of other central characters each adding their own drama. Women running away from opressive males is not new. Written in three parts the author does a good job of tieing it all up in the end. Getting to the end was like climbing uphill carrying a large bag of rocks. I could find no character that particularly stood out or could pull me into the story. Each of them I trust was quite mad in their own way leaving me mad that I wasted my time.

  • Jon Recluse
    2019-05-10 05:16

    No one writes Gothic quite like John Harwood. His ability to capture the mood, atmosphere and mores of the classics is without equal, while avoiding the florid excesses that plagued the subgenre. And with The Asylum, he has produced one of the best Gothic mysteries I've read in years, filled with a creeping paranoia and genuine chills.Highly recommended.

  • Bandit
    2019-05-15 22:54

    I enjoy John Harwood books, I've read his previous two, but this one was by far my favorite of his thus far. Ghost Writer was an exciting debut and Seance had some sophomore slump mainly due to the fact that it was set in a more current time. Harwood writes gothic fiction, so it really works best when it's set within a proper era. Asylum works well because Harwood absolutely captures the age, the setting, the atmosphere, the characters, but particularly it is the relentless suspense the makes the book so impossible to put down. Yes, with Asylum John Harwood is chanelling Sarah Waters to an extent, but in my book that is a compliment of the highest order, because no one does victorian fiction like she can. This book is also leaner and meaner than the author's previous works with excellent pacing and sinuous narrative that keeps the reader constantly guessing what's going on. Harwood's no stranger to plot twists, all of his stories feature them, but with this one he really outdoes himself. This one is a must for any fan of gothic fiction, good mystery, combination of both, or just anyone really who enjoys a good well written story. Highly recommended.

  • Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
    2019-04-28 00:46

    A little bit silly and rushed at the ending, but everything else was great, if you're a goth novel fan. Really involving for most of the book, and really makes you worry about the main character.

  • Jane
    2019-05-10 03:53

    This is wonderful: an utterly readable, utterly compelling Gothic mystery, set in Victorian England.It begins with a young woman waking in a strange bed, in a strange room. The smell and texture of her blanket was wrong, the coarse flannel nightgown she was wearing was not her own, and when she opened her eyes and saw a grille covering the small window, roughly painted walls, a heavy oak door with a small aperture she knew that something was terribly, terribly wrong.And she had no memory at all of how she had got there.She was told that she was an inmate in a Tregannon House, an asylum set in the wild Cornish Countryside of Bodmin Moor. She was told that she had presented herself as a voluntary patient the previous evening, giving the name Lucy Ashton.She knew that she was Georgina Ferrars, but the luggage she had brought, the clothes and jewellery they held, were not her own, and she still had no memory of what had happened, no explanation at all.A telegram to her uncle, her only living relation would prove who she was, but a reply came back saying that Georgina was safe and well at home …..Georgina’s perceptions, and her growing horror and bewilderment, are portrayed absolutely perfectly. I was hooked!I call her Georgina because she was sure that she was Georgina, and because I liked her and I wanted to believe her. It was quite possible that she was unreliable, or deluded, but I was inclined to think not.She tried to find answers, to find a way out of the asylum, but she was frustrated at every turn.But she discovered a journal and a cache of letters hidden in the lining of her trunk. The narrative began to shift, moving between Georgina’s story in the present, her journal that gave her some of the explanations she had been seeking about her recent past, and the letters that had been written to her mother years earlier, where she saw familiar names, and began to see answers and to ask new questions.All three strands of the story are intriguing and compelling, and John Harwood spun a wonderful gothic tale of family secrets, questions of identity and sanity around them. The atmosphere was wonderful, they were some lovely touches, and there was a marvellous twist, that had me asking new questions and reforming my theories, three-quarters of the way through the book.There were moments when I was reminded of Sarah Waters, there were moments when I was reminded of Wilkie Collins, but there were far more moments when I was completely caught up with Georgina’s story and situation.The possibility that she was deluded, that the Georgina she said was an imposter was the real Georgina, but she was so engaging, so believable, so realistic in her approach to her situation, that I really wanted to believe her and I really wanted her to find her way out of the asylum.I give great credit to John Harwood for making Tregannon House an enlightened institution, and not creating easy drama from cruel practices. My only, very small disappointments, were with the letters that read like a narrative with breaks rather than real letters, and with a highly improbable clause in a will that was used to delay a particular revelation.The ending was a little over-dramatic, and not quite as tightly plotted as the rest of the book. I had the feeling that the author had worked out the history but hadn’t worked out how to resolve Georgina’s situation, and so he forced things rather. But he did tie up all of the loose ends, and I was pleased that it didn’t tie them up too tightly. The future held possibilities, but not certainties.So The Asylum isn’t quite perfect but it’s still a lovely piece of Gothic Victoriana; there’s enough to hold lovers of this kind of book, and it’s also accessible enough to those who less familiar with the genre.And it’s more than good enough for me to want to go back and read John Harwood’s two earlier novels.

  • Lisa Ahlstedt
    2019-05-20 03:48

    Meh. I was expecting a spooky, gothic tale, based on the cover and description. Perhaps if they make a movie out of this book it would turn out that way, but I had a hard time getting that vibe from the book. It has a promising opening, with young Georgina Ferrars waking up in a mental institution in Victorian England with no idea how she came to be there. Even more perplexing, the numerous staff members she comes in contact with all insist that she presented herself as "Lucy Ashton" and said she wanted to commit herself as a voluntary patient. She has no memory of any such thing, and so there is seemingly a great mystery to be unraveled. Unfortunately, it is told through a series of letters and diary entries, both from her and from someone called "Rosina Wentworth" and so it all gets terribly muddled. Then you have people switching identities, mistaken identities, people making wills left and right, people taking assumed names and then slightly changing those names (why they didn't just take the name they changed the assumed name to in the first place is a puzzle) and so on -- all of which leaves the poor reader (in this case, me) scratching her head. It all gets somewhat sorted out in the end, but by that time all the characters and their relationships have all blended together into a big pile of mush. If they do make a movie and get some famous faces to play the roles, so that we can pin a name to a face and keep them all straight, it might just work. Otherwise, it's too confusing to be a satisfying read.

  • Caro M.
    2019-05-09 22:12

    I have to confess - Harwood is my guilty pleasure. I will be adding every book Harwood writes to my to-read shelf in future.This book gets 3 and a half stars. I liked it. All elements of the puzzle, such as family secrets, dramatic turns, skeletons in the closets and some other things (that I don't want to spoil here), were quite similar to those of The Ghost Writer and The Seance, but in different combination it made this victorian novel taste quite good. Just to compare - The Ghost Writer was much creepier. And I still liked The Seance a bit more than Harwood's other books.But to be honest I couldn't put it down till I finished it, even though I could predict a lot and sometimes I was eye rolling at the naivety of the heroine.

  • Helen
    2019-05-12 05:56

    Imagine waking up one day to find yourself in an asylum, with no memory of how you came to be there. You know your own name – Georgina Ferrars – but the doctor tells you that you had admitted yourself as a voluntary patient the day before under the name Lucy Ashton. The clothes and belongings you've brought with you, marked with the initials LA, seem to confirm this, but you're sure that's not who you are. Sending a telegram to your uncle, a London bookseller, you wait for him to prove your identity, but when the reply comes it isn't what you'd hoped for at all. Apparently Georgina Ferrars is safe and well at home...which means you must be an imposter.This is the nightmare scenario in which a lonely young woman finds herself in this atmospheric gothic tale of betrayal and deceit, secrets, insanity and identity. To describe the plot in any more detail would risk giving too much away, so I won't try – I think it's best if you begin this novel knowing no more than I've already told you above as part of the fun is in wondering what's going on and coming up with theories of your own. And I certainly came up with plenty of theories...and had to keep changing and revising them as new clues and revelations came to light!As I read The Asylum I felt as confused and bewildered as our narrator did. Was she really Georgina Ferrars, as she claimed to be? I thought so at first – I liked her and wanted to believe her – and I was convinced she must be the victim of a conspiracy. But who exactly was involved in the conspiracy? The doctor? The uncle? The fake Georgina? After a while, though, I began to have doubts. Was the narrator herself the fake after all? I couldn't believe she was telling lies, so did that mean she was deluded or just suffering from a total loss of memory? There were so many questions to ask and so many possible answers.The story is set in the 1880s and written in the style of a Victorian sensation novel. Like Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White and other books of that era, parts of the story are told in the form of journal entries and letters. These help to fill in some gaps in our knowledge so that we can start to understand what is happening to Georgina. There were other aspects of the novel that reminded me of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and one of the letter writers finds herself in a situation similar to the heroine of Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, but there were enough original ideas here to make this an intriguing and absorbing story in its own right.Most of the action takes place within the confines of Tregannon House (the private asylum on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, in which Georgina becomes trapped) and the atmosphere Harwood creates is wonderfully claustrophobic and eerie. I really sympathised with Georgina's situation and shared her terror and bewilderment. My only criticism of the book is that the ending – in particular the way in which one of the villains of the story is eventually dealt with – felt a bit too melodramatic in comparison to the rest of the book.This is the third John Harwood novel I've read and while I think the first, The Ghost Writer, is still my favourite, I enjoyed this one more than the second, The Séance. They're all great, though, and if you like this sort of book you can't go wrong with any of them!

  • Ti
    2019-05-02 05:49

    The Short of It:An asylum, a young woman who has supposedly gone mad, the English setting…and yet I struggled with it.The Rest of It:Georgina Ferrars wakes up in an asylum. She can’t remember how she got there or why, but she is quickly told that she admitted herself under the name of Lucy Ashton. When she questions this, her uncle back home is notified and he confirms that the REAL Georgina Ferrars is in fact, with him, and that there must be some mistake.As you can imagine, the mistaken identity piece of this story is what’s most puzzling. Why is she in this asylum? What is going on back home? Is someone doing this to her on purpose? These are the questions that kept going through my mind. I’ve never been one to turn down a book that had anything to do with an asylum. The setting fascinates me as done anything pertaining to psychology or mental illness so this book felt like a good fit for me. Especially, the first half.But then something strange happened. The story started going back and forth with flashbacks and the like and somewhere along the way, the author lost me. I mean, I was totally and utterly lost! I backtracked and reread entire chapters and could not figure out what was going on. It was so bad at one point, that I checked page numbers to see if my copy had a chunk torn out. Nope. The pages were intact and then out of nowhere, I was suddenly reading a lesbian love scene. Not a bad scene, quite well-written actually, but how did it fit into the story? I haven’t a clue!This is one of those situations where I either totally spaced out, or I missed a critical line somewhere but the entire second half was a mystery to me. Even the ending. I haven’t a clue what transpired. I feel silly for admitting this but I have to be honest. I got really frustrated trying to figure it out and decided that if I just continued to read, it would all fall into place. No, it did not.I have to say though, that first half was quite compelling. Harwood’s handling of the setting is what made that first half a page-turner for me. I just wish the second half had been as compelling. I read a lot of heavy stuff and can usually follow along without any problems but clearly, I missed something here.Anyone want to clue me in? If so, email me.For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter.

  • Antigone
    2019-05-18 01:03

    It's two o'clock in the afternoon, Thursday, the second of November, year of our Lord 1882. Georgina Ferrars opens her eyes in a Cornwall lunatic asylum with no idea how she got there and deeply confused by the staff's insistence on referring to her as Lucy Ashton. She convinces the doctor to contact her uncle and inform him of her predicament. Her uncle responds with the assurance that his niece is with him. The patient must be an imposter. So begins a distinctly disturbing tale by John Harwood that plays quite effectively on the primal fear inside all of us: the sudden and unexplained severing of the communal ties that anchor our identity. Urgent questions arise, a panicked defense is adopted; the desperate wrangle toward stabilizing an existence-in-question is swiftly underway.Told through Georgina's narrative, and later supplemented by a collection of letters, The Asylum meets the mark with regard to crafting the tension so necessary for gothic suspense. Events proceed at a fine clip; motives cloud, suspicions deepen, pages turn. Just enough discovery dangles like a carrot a few feet ahead to propel us over those hurdles of doubt and revelation. Harwood is certainly skilled with pacing. Where he falters, at least for me, is in character construction. I can forgive Georgina her faulty thinking and any number of poor choices at the start. She's introduced in crisis and, ideally, will locate her bearings right alongside her reader. But as time goes on and her predicament gels, her emotional state settling somewhat, it turns out our Miss Ferrars is...well, she's pretty dumb. And melodramatic. And self-absorbed. And I'm halfway through. And it's too late for me.Yet the rest was so proficiently done, and who knows? You may be far more tolerant on the issue of a character's temperament than persnickety me.

  • Sue
    2019-04-25 01:03

    Two of my favorite genres combine in Harwood's latest, historical fiction and a gothic style mystery set largely in a Victorian era asylum. There are questions of identity and sanity. A young woman awakes in an asylum told that she is Lucy Ashton, someone she doesn't know, and has no recall of her past.Harwood sets up the story in three parts: the initial narrative telling of Lucy's history, the middle section providing history through letters from the past, and the third section which provides resolution as only a Victorian style novel can. The weight of the novel is in the first two sections and the ending may be a bit too convenient, but I don't mind. It was an enjoyable read.Recommended.

  • Terri
    2019-05-22 04:47

    Georgina wakes in an asylum with no memory of the past few weeks having registered under an assumed name with no idea how she got there. The Doctor tells her she had suffered a seizure the day before and that he has confidence she will regain her memories. She has him send a telegram to her uncle and is shocked when the response says that Georgina Ferrars is there with him and she is an imposter they had taken in as a guest.After this revelation, the mystery deepens as she tries to understand what has happened, regain her memories and recover her life.This was a very eerie, gothic tale. As a reader, I, like Georgina, wondered what was happening and if, it was a delusion as the doctor insisted. Her aloneness and fright were palpable at times.The story unfolds slowly, with the roots of the mystery in the past. Parts of the story are told in epistolary style with letters from the past helping her fill in the gaps and piece together what had happened. Very engaging.

  • Cheryl
    2019-04-29 02:02

    Gothic novel set in 1882 England. The story is told through first-person narration, letters, and diary entries. Lots of twists in the plot. The author borrows heavily from the classic novels of Wilkie Collins and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and so readers familiar with those works won't find many surprises here. However, I think the book is a good introduction to readers who are new to the Gothic/Sensation Novel genres.

  • Tracey
    2019-05-14 02:06

    BeginningBORING BORING BORING Somewhere towards the middleSlightly interesting, I hope it gets good The rest of the bookBORING BORING BORING

  • Celia
    2019-04-24 00:57

    This was actually a really interesting and engaging read until the last third of the book. Then it just fell to spectacularly crappy pieces. The last 50 pages or so were practically phoned in. Put aside the fact that the main character is the very definition of (exasperatingly) gullible- it's the character flaw that sets up the story. Fine, I'll take it. But so much mystery and intrigue and then… nothing. Ends in a poorly constructed hurry. The "bad guy" gives up in the space of two paragraphs with an easy attitude of "oh, well, guess I'll just die now," and the main character sees fit to let her tormentor go with a stern, "now, super duper promise you won't be bad in future." I have a (spoilery) theory- dude who wrote the book wanted to write about sisters making out. Cauuusssseee the only thing hotter than lesbians is sisters who make out and like it! I mean, when contemplating a marriage to her male cousin, the main character is skeeved out at the whole consanguinity thing. Somehow, I feel making out with your sibling trumps making out with your cousin when it comes to gross incest. The story could have maintained a diverse sexuality among its characters and even the same damn basic plot by making Emily the real mother of Georgina. In the end, it doesn't even come off as shocking or particularly important to the plot that the girls be sisters; it's just made me feel duped into wasting the better part of my day.

  • Marie
    2019-05-18 22:01

    Many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the galley copy (via NetGalley)A young woman wakes up in an asylum with no recollection of how she got there or why she voluntarily committed herself under another name. Upon insisting that she is Georgina Ferrars, not Lucy Ashton, and that her uncle, who also her guardian, should confirm her disappearance, Georgina receives the shock of a lifetime to discover that another woman is staying with her uncle and is now living her life. Georgina, now in a race against her sanity, must figure out the truth before her stay in the asylum becomes involuntarily permanent.I started out absolutely loving this book. It has such a wonderfully Gothic feel; the asylum certainly lends an air of morbidity and the mystery of Georgina's circumstances adds a layer of suspense to an atmosphere already rife with gloom. This sense of melancholy seemed to permeate every location in the novel, whether it was the asylum, the musty bookstore Georgina's uncle owns, or the cottage at the cliffs where Georgina grew up. As a protagonist, I found Georgina to be intriguing. She shows strength and determination during trying times, most evidently in the way she doggedly tried to puzzle out her state of affairs. Though I truly believed she was telling the truth about her identity, I couldn't avoid wondering if she was an unreliable narrator as pieces of her life slowly came to light, complicating my assessment of her character. A lonely childhood led to the understandable creation of an imaginary twin sister, but the way Georgina made this fictitious sibling seem real--examples include giving her sister a personality that was the complete opposite of her own and assigning her with a high and menacing voice--was disturbing. Additionally, the name Georgina chose for her pretend sibling struck fear in her mother. Her isolation continued into adulthood and I couldn't help but ask myself if this persistent seclusion had taken a toll on her mental state. However, as much as I was wrapped up in this mystery, the ending was a sour note that, in my opinion, completely missed the mark. The inclusion of a villain of the mustache-twirling variety was so jarring, especially when the tone of the story was one of quiet yet steadily building psychological suspense. It was all the more disappointing since so much time was spent establishing these characters' personalities, only to have outside factors play a sizable role in the dénouement.With a layered, twisted plot and a protagonist that is psychologically engrossing, The Asylum is a well-crafted, gripping mystery that should pique the interest of those who enjoy Gothic or Victorian era novels, even if the ending won't satisfy everyone.

  • Barb
    2019-05-18 02:55

    I read John Harwood's 'The Seance' a little over a year ago and really enjoyed it. When I saw he had a new book out I eagerly added it to my list of books to be read, when I saw it being offered through the Vine I happily picked it up.Georgina Ferrars finds herself in an asylum with a gap in her memory and no recollection of how she has arrived at Tregannon House. Dr. Straker, the asylum's director, tells her she came to visit him and introduced herself as Lucy Ashton then had a seizure while she was walking the grounds. She assures him she is Georgina Ferrars and has never known anyone named Lucy Ashton. Dr. Straker says he will release her if there can be some confirmation of her identity. A telegram is sent to Uncle Josiah whom she lives with and shock and confusion ensue with his reply which states 'Georgian Ferrars here stop your patient must be an impostor stop'.Who is to be believed? Who can be trusted? What can the motive be for her uncle to lie? What happened in the weeks before her arrival at Tregannon House and why can't she remember that period in her life? The answers are revealed to us in part through letters from a cousin to Georgina's mother over twenty years ago. Asylum has an interesting and suspenseful mystery at its core with compelling characters and complex relationships; I enjoyed reading about their lives and deaths and trying to figure out who could be trusted and what their motivations were.I thought the pacing was good and the story kept me engaged but there were a few twists that I found somewhat implausible and certain events and motivations were revealed at the end in a sudden way that felt unlikely. So, while I really enjoyed the story and following along as all of the events were pieced together, the ending seemed incongruous with the rest of the story.

  • Abigail
    2019-05-05 06:05

    Although solid enough I felt that I've read better gothic stories that have done the same story but better.

  • Nancy Oakes
    2019-04-30 06:11

    I never added a review here (or if I did, couldn't find it). So here it is, from June 2013.I have to be rather honest here. This is the third book I've read by John Harwood -- I loved his The Ghost Writer, which was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Prize in 2005, and I also enjoyed The Seance, his second book. Compared to those two, this one is not as good, and for me, not so mysterious as I feel a gothic-style novel should be. Having said that, let me just say that it's getting multi-star ratings so it's one you need to try on your own. As is my usual habit, I first read the dust-cover blurb: "Confused and disoriented, Georgina Ferrars awakens 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... Suddenly her voluntary confinement becomes involuntary."Oooh! oooh! I'm thinking, I can't wait to get into this one! I love Gothic novels and I like Gothic-style novels, and I'm a sucker for historical novels where people end up in an asylum, so this seemed right up my alley. For a while it was. Related in three parts, the novel starts with Georgina/Lucy's arrival and her stay at Tregannon House. She can't help but wonder why she picked the name Lucy Ashton, and starts wondering if whether or not there was some "strain of madness" in her family. Telling herself "not to think about it," she thinks instead about her childhood with her mother and great-aunt, another interesting story, set on a cottage about fifty yards from a cliff on the Isle of Wight. An escape only leads to more questions, as she sees Georgina Ferrars in her uncle's home and then returned to Tregannon House. As she's considering a second attempt, she stumbles upon her old writing case, leading to Part Two, which helps in some ways to clear up the mystery of what's going on, by going back in time to when her own mother was a young girl. While Part One held my interest completely; Part Two also intrigued for a while until the story started to become so obvious that I figured out most of what had happened and what was going to happen, so by Part Three, I just wanted to finish the book. Certainly no mystery there -- and the transparency of it all sidelined my enjoyment. There were also so many implausible things happening here that it stopped being fun. What I did like very much was the atmosphere the author created from the contemporary present in Tregannon House to a cottage on the Isle of Wight and even further back in time, to the realm of Victorian high society. He sets up his story so that you don't know who you can trust in this book, which is a plus -- I love dubious characters and trying to sort them all out vis-a-vis their relationship with the main characters in this novel. But overall, I wasn't that fond of this novel, and felt let down, which is a shame, since I liked his other two books so much. The Asylum has received good reviews from several readers so maybe they see something in it that I didn't. It just didn't do it for me.

  • Sophie
    2019-05-20 23:53

    I think this novel had a lot of potential that the author left untapped. Georgina's story is fascinating, and I like how the reader pieces it together just as Georgina does. What I found a little distracting was the static quality of the narrative. Much of it is told through journals and letters, which I always find problematic. It's hard to believe that anyone would keep a journal as detailed as the one Georgina does, or that anyone would write letters as comprehensive as the ones Rosina sends Emily. For the most part, the journals and letters keep the story moving, but occasionally it seemed as if nothing was really happening in the story.My biggest problem was with Georgina herself. Once she has reconstructed her past, it's hard to understand how she reaches the conclusions she does. She was perilously close to too-stupid-to-live territory (view spoiler)[For instance, why would she assume the deception was all Lucia's doing? Why, after all the entirely justifiable suspicions she's had of Dr. Straker, would she contemplate turning the wills and papers over to him? I almost had to quit listening at that point. (hide spoiler)] My second problem with the story was the relationship between Georgina and Lucia. (view spoiler)[I didn't really understand why the author grafted the love angle onto the story, and I didn't think it fit either the characters or the situation. The fact that the reader knows Lucia is manipulating the all-too-innocent Georgina makes it unpleasant enough, but the fact that Lucia is actually Georgina's half-sister--and Lucia has to know that--makes the ick factor go all the way to eleven. And that Georgina lets the relationship determine her future, even though she has no actual memory of it and feels nothing for Lucia, seemed both silly and pointless to me. As if she had let those two supreme users--Straker and Lucia--win after all. (hide spoiler)]Overall, this was a book that, although competently written and even more competently narrated by Rosalyn Landor, should have been better than it was.

  • MissSusie
    2019-05-06 04:11

    This book is gothic fiction at its best! This was the first book I’ve read by Harwood and I will be reading his others. This book grabbed me from the start and kept me on the edge of my seat all the way through. Poor Georgina wakes up in an asylum with no recollection on how she got there, she is also registered in a name that is not hers. Between the memory loss and her giving a false name the doctor thinks she should stay and get her memory back when things go from bad to worse when the doctor checks around about who she says she is and finds that Georgina is home in London. Is there a vast conspiracy or is Georgina crazy and just making up that she is really Georgina.I loved how this book plays out , there were even times I wondered about Georgina’s sanity. There is also a story about Georgina’s mother that all eventually ties into what is happening in the present. Oh this is hard I don’t want to spoil this story for anyone because the suspense is done so beautifully the story unfolds gracefully as you try to figure out if Georgina is telling the truth or if she really does belong in the asylum.The narrator Rosalyn Landor does as always a fantastic job, I love that she does these male voices where it’s almost like someone else is narrating them. If a book has Rosalyn narrating I will always pick the audio over paper.If you are a fan of gothic stories run, don’t walk to get this book because this is gothic fiction at its best! Just make sure you have time allotted because you will not want to put it down once you have started!4 ½ starsI received this book from the Audiobookjukebox and the publisher Blackstone Audio for a fair and honest review.

  • Tina Hayes
    2019-05-11 05:50

    John Harwood's "The Asylum" is a suspense novel set in England in the mid to late 1800s. I enjoyed the way it was written, with a feel for classic literature of that time period, which I think also complimented the Gothic setting.Georgina Ferrars wakes up in an asylum with no recollection of how she got there, plus her two most prized possessions are nowhere to be found. When the great-uncle she lives with is contacted, he sends a reply stating that Georgina is indeed still in his house at the very moment, and she also wants the same two possessions returned, a dragonfly pin and writing case. Which woman is the imposter? Is Georgina insane, or did some sort of foul play land her in the institution?This book is a page turner that I really enjoyed. My only critique is that the last scene that includes the doctor didn't strike me as what his character would've done in that situation. Overall, I would highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy gothic settings, mystery, and suspense.

  • John
    2019-05-20 22:58

    Really 2.5 stars, but 2.0 seems so harsh when maybe I just didn't appreciate the book?The first half seemed a slow slog, but I was genuinely interested in how Our Heroine ended up as a patient? We get some back story via letters to her mother from a cousin, that frankly read more as a "device" to impart the information that correspondence. The story became so convoluted that I lost track of which character "went" with which thread; things also got a bit creepy (although the lesbian romance wasn't my cup of tea, but that seemed awkward, rather than creepy). The last 25% or so rushes the action towards a melodramatic conclusion that raises as many questions as it addresses. Somehow, I must not have paid attention for a few minutes, because I'm still ot exactly sure what happened in the end.Basically, I liked Georgina throughout the story, but the plotting gets a fairly solid thumbs down from me. Not particularly recommended, except as a way to fill time.