Friday 30 December 2022

Review - The Darlings of the Asylum by Noel O'Reilly

The Darlings of the Asylum by Noel O'Reilly
Publisher: HQ
Release date: 8 December 2022
Back cover blurb: To marry is madness. To escape is impossible. I must pull myself together. I had to find Dr Rastrick and demand my immediate release. My stomach knotted at the prospect, but I knew I was perfectly sane and that he must see reason. In 1886, a respectable young woman must acquire a husband. But Violet Pring does not want to marry. She longs to be a professional artist and live on her own terms. When her scheming mother secures a desirable marriage proposal from an eligible Brighton gentleman for her, Violet protests. Her family believes she is deranged and deluded, so she is locked away in Hillwood Grange Lunatic Asylum against her will. In her new cage, Violet faces an even greater challenge: she must escape the clutches of a sinister and formidable doctor and set herself free. This tantalizing Gothic novel from Noel O’Reilly tells a thrilling story of duty and desire, madness and sanity, truth and delusion from within a Victorian asylum.

The Darlings of the Asylum is the first novel by Noel O’Reilly that I’ve had the pleasure of reading, and it certainly won’t be the last!

As regular readers of my blog will know, I am partial to a historical fiction novel or two, but this one is probably a little earlier than I would normally read.

Violet Pring is a young woman determined to live her own life, and not the one that her family have planned for her. The only trouble is, in 1886 this is very much frowned upon..

Violet’s family insist that is married before she is “too old”, but she longs to be an artist, and follow her dreams, she is headstrong and often classed as “difficult”, even though her family insist they have her best interested at heart.

After a chance encounter with artist Mr Lilley, Violet is more determined that ever to follow her dreams and become an artist.

He praises her work, and Violet can see a little something of herself in him. He encourages her to believe that she could possibly be whoever she wants to be. She has a rare talent, and she should use it.

Her family have other ideas.

After reluctantly agreeing to her fate and becoming engaged to her betrothed, Felix, Violet goes in search of Mr Lilley, to discuss her work, and how she might continue once she is married. 

Mr Lilley lends a good ear, and Violet returns home albeit it a little later than planned, feeling more agreeable about life in general.

That is the last thing she remembers before waking in an unfamiliar room. She is horrified to learn that she is now incarcerated in Hillwood Grange lunatic asylum with no visitation rights and no release date.

Violet knows that she is not insane, but how on earth is she going to prove it, when society itself is against her, because she doesn’t confirm to the norm.

I don’t want to give anything else away, as this is definitely a novel to be discovered, and comes highly recommended from me.

The Darlings of the Asylum is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops. 

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in 

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