ABOUT THE BOOK
How would it be if four lunatics went on a tremendous adventure, reshaping their pasts and futures as they went, including killing Mussolini? What if one of those people were a fascinating, forgotten aristocratic assassin and the others a fellow life co-patient, James Joyce’s daughter Lucia, another the first psychoanalysis patient, known to history simply as ‘Anna O,’ and finally 19th Century Paris’s Queen of the Hysterics, Blanche Wittmann?
That would be extraordinary, wouldn’t it? How would it all be possible? Because, as the assassin Lady Violet Gibson would tell you, those who are confined have the very best imaginations.
PUBLISHED BY BLUEMOOSE BOOKS
This is book 6 of my 20 books of summer 2022.
I found this to be a really impressive, if slightly challenging, read which features 4 real women and a fictional reinterpretation of their lives, of which many years were spent inside mental institutions as they were deemed mentally unwell because of their actions. Through listening to their stories as they tell them to one another, you begin to question what is madness! Why are some people locked away for their actions, and others get away with far worse. Being female really impacted on the decision by men to lock them up, so it seems, and it was fascinating to see how they reacted to the world and the restrictions placed upon them.
The women involved were all quite prominent at the time, none more so than the daughter of James Joyce, alongside that of Lady Gibson who was locked up for shooting Mussolini, but failing to kill him. She saw the monster in him while others turned a blind eye or were taken in by him. But she saw her actions as a calling and the author mentions a few books at the end about the women and the times, and I’ll definitely be picking up some of those to learn more about their stories.
The style of writing was often frantic and rambling as these women recalled their childhoods, or events during the past, and I did get a lost a bit trying to come to terms with that, but then it seemed to click and fit with the way their minds were shaped because of the places they were being kept. Feeding the birds was a great distraction for them, and allowed a feeling of ‘normal’ in a very crazy situation.
The line between madness and clarity was really well put together throughout this book and it really does make you think about the whole subject of insanity, and how by thinking different and going against the grain could worry others. It’s an often surreal story but one that really makes you think and I’m looking forward to reading it again soon to discover more missed messages and hidden layers! Highly recommended!