Lady Cordelia #CBR5 Review #74: The Asylum by John Harwood

untitledThis is a mystery story that starts out well but takes a few implausible turns that have the effect of rudely awakening the reader from the world of the story.

Georgina Ferrars, a young genteel woman in the late 1800’s wakes up in a mental asylum.  She has no memory of how she came to be there and is mystified when she is told that she had identified herself as Lucy Ashton upon her arrival the day before.    Insisting that the asylum contact her uncle, the mystery deepens when he responds that his niece Georgina is currently with him in London and that the young woman in the asylum must be an imposter.  Who is the mystery woman in the asylum?  How can she know so much about another woman’s life that she believes it to be hers?  Is she simply mad or is there something more sinister at play?

If this novel had actually been a bit more mysterious instead of hinging on a rather unbelievable plot twist, I probably would have enjoyed it more.  Such as it is, I still quite enjoyed the world that was created, though implausible at times.  I think what we have here is Jane Austen meets Shutter Island – but it doesn’t quite gel.  There were little things that drove me crazy… for instance, why would an exclusive private asylum in the 19th century be so determined to keep caring for a penniless crazy woman?  Also the fact that a bit of straight talk and emotional honesty between individuals would have reduced the mystery to mere paragraphs.  Still, not a bad read, but just not quite as good as I had hoped it would be.

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