Hello and Happy Saturday! It’s here again!! Been an emotional week after the funeral on Monday, and that seemed to throw me off track on the book front! Hopefully normal service can be resumed next week, and I can get a few more reviews done!
I did manage to finish 5 books this week which I’m happy about and I stayed away from Netgalley and didn’t buy any either! Wonders will never cease!!
Hello! Happy Saturday!! Definitely feeling and looking a little more Autumnal out there now.. the spiderwebs are multiplying daily in the garden!
On to books! A slower week reading wise with just 2 finishes this past week. Netgalley got me good again though with 5 new additions – oops!! Plus I’ve bought 2 new books and got 1 book in the post to review! I need to up the reading and reviewing pace again!!
THE SECRET GARDENS OF THE SOUTH EAST by BARBARA SEGALL
publication date – October 2022
A tour of some of the UK’s most beguiling gardens in the counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey, the counties that exemplify ‘the garden of England’.
In these three counties a wealth of history and horticulture has combined with geography in the shape of rolling landscapes, wooded valleys and meandering waterways, to provide an attractive and fascinating collection.
They are in villages and towns, as well as in deep countryside, and all are privately owned. Some have been in the possession of the same family for many generations, while others have recently been transformed by new owners. Some open for the National Garden Scheme, while others are open privately and in some cases for just the occasional day for charity.
The stunning gardens explored in this visually rich guide include: Arundel Castle, Denmans, Gravetye Manor, Munstead Wood and Sussex Prairie Garden. The book also includes a gazetteer of other important gardens in the area with location advice, to enable readers to plan a more elaborate tour of this fertile garden area.
Filled with stunning, specially commissioned photographs by Clive Boursnell, Secret Gardens of the South East is a unique guide that opens the gates to the most intriguing gardens in this part of England.
BATTLESHIPS by DAVID ROSS
publication date – October 2022
Battleships features 52 of the greatest warships to have sailed in the last 500 years.
Beginning with King Henry VIII’s flagship, Henry Grace à Dieu, this book covers all the main periods of battleship development, including the great sailing ships, such as Sovereign of the Seas, SantissimaTrinidad, and Victory. The advent of steam-driven warships provides the core of the book, beginning with the introduction of Gloire in 1859, and continuing through all the major pre-Dreadnoughts, such as the Inflexible, Maine, and Tsessarevitch. There is detailed coverage of the great battleships of the two world wars, including Derfflinger, Yamato, and Iowa, while the book closes with the last new battleship to be commissioned, Vanguard, in 1946. Each entry includes a brief description of the battleship’s development and history, a color profile artwork, key features, and specifications. Packed with illustrations and photographs, Battleships is a colorful guide for the military historian and naval warfare enthusiast.
GRAVES OF THE GREAT AND FAMOUS by ALASTAIR HORNE
Karl Marx is buried in London, John Keats in Rome and Leon Trotsky in Mexico. Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris is today known for the graves of Jim Morrison, Victor Hugo and Oscar Wilde, but when it opened in the early 19th century the owners felt that they needed some star names to make it a desired burial site – and so they had Molière’s body transferred there. Arranged thematically into 75 entries, Graves of the Great and Famous tours the world exploring the resting places of leading artists, thinkers, scientists, sportspeople, revolutionaries, politicians and pioneers. Some, such as communist leaders Ho Chi Minh and Vladimir Lenin, are interred in great mausoleums, where they are visited by millions each year; others are buried in little-known country graveyards. From lives cut short through assassinations – Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln – to those who suffered terrible accidents (Princess Diana), from mobsters such as Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel and John Gotti to Napoleon and his mistress Marie Walewska, from Nelson Mandela to Eva Peron, Graceland to Highgate Cemetery, the book provides a guide to some of the most famous and unusual graves of the great and the good. Featuring 150 photographs of graves, cemeteries, graveyards and mausoleums, Graves of the Great and Famous is a compact guide to the final resting place of the famous – and infamous.
BECKY by SARAH MAY
publication date – January 2023
Becky Sharp is determined. Determined to get away from the dead-end town where she grew up, determined to make a place for herself in high society and determined to reach the top of the career ladder. And she doesn’t care how many lives she ruins in the process.
Set in 90s tabloid era London, Becky charts the rise and fall of a very modern heroine as she inveigles her way into the highest society, where tabloid millionaires mingle and trade favours and fortunes with royalty and aristocracy, pushes her way up through the ranks at the Mercury newspaper with manipulative scoop after scoop, and eventually orchestrates her own dramatic downfall. These are some of the biggest news stories and scandals of the last few decades, and Becky seems to have something to do with every one of them . . .
In this viciously funny, darkly entertaining and ultimately moving read, the much-loved classic Vanity Fair finds itself in 90s London, and Becky couldn’t be a more perfect fit. For fans of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible, Becky by Sarah May is impossible to put down.
FOUND IN A BOOKSHOP by STEPHANIE BUTLAND
publication – April 2023
Dear Lost for Words, We are trying to stay at home . . . I am enclosing a cheque and I hope that you will use it to send us some books. Please choose books that we might think are wonderful.
Loveday Cardew’s beloved Lost for Words bookshop, along with the rest of York, has fallen quiet. At the very time when people most need books to widen their horizons, or escape from their fears, or enhance their lives, the doors are closed. Then the first letter comes.
Rosemary and George have been married for fifty years. Now their time is running out. They have decided to set out on their last journey together, without ever leaving the bench at the bottom of their garden in Whitby. All they need is someone who shares their love of books.
Suddenly it’s clear to Loveday that she and her team can do something useful in a crisis. They can recommend books to help with the situations their customers find themselves in: fear, boredom, loneliness, the desire for laughter and escape.
And so it begins.
On to the book I was sent for review by Gallic Books….
ORPHEUS BUILDS A GIRL by HEATHER PARRY
publication date – October 2022
Based on a true story, Orpheus Builds a Girl is a novel of sisterly love, sinister obsession, and the battle for control of the story. A dark, chilling debut novel from award-winning writer Heather Parry.
German doctor Wilhelm Von Tore shares with the reader the story of his one true ove; a love written in the stars, decades in the making, a love so strong it transcended death itself. When Wilhelm emigrates to America he carries with him a vision of a dark-haired beauty, presented to him in his dreams by his beloved late Grandmother. In Key West, Florida, a beautiful young woman is taken to him in the grip of illness, and he recognises her immediately as his promised bride. Despite his efforts, the sickness takes hold and his beloved slips away from him. But Wilhelm will not be kept from his destiny, not even by death. Using research compiled over decades, he sets about attempting to restore his love to her body, so that they might be together forever.
But there’s another voice in this story: Gabriela, and she will not let this version of events go unchallenged. From between the cracks in Wilhelm’s story Gabriela recounts her own memory of her sister Luciana, a fiery and difficult young woman, and the madman who robbed her from her grave.
And then it was time to treat myself… obviously!
FAIRY TALE by STEPHEN KING
Legendary storyteller Stephen King goes into the deepest well of his imagination in this spellbinding novel about a seventeen-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher—for their world or ours.
Charlie Reade looks like a regular high school kid, great at baseball and football, a decent student. But he carries a heavy load. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was ten, and grief drove his dad to drink. Charlie learned how to take care of himself—and his dad. Then, when Charlie is seventeen, he meets a dog named Radar and his ageing master, Howard Bowditch, a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill, with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds emerge from it.
Charlie starts doing jobs for Mr. Bowditch and loses his heart to Radar. Then, when Bowditch dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story no one would believe. What Bowditch knows, and has kept secret all his long life, is that inside the shed is a portal to another world.
King’s storytelling in Fairy Tale soars. This is a magnificent and terrifying tale about another world than ours, in which good is pitted against overwhelming evil, and a heroic boy—and his dog—must lead the battle
.THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX by MAGGIE O’FARRELL
Maggie O’Farrell takes readers on a journey to the darker places of the human heart, where desires struggle with the imposition of social mores. This haunting story explores the seedy past of Victorian asylums, the oppression of family secrets, and the way truth can change everything.
In the middle of tending to the everyday business at her vintage clothing shop and sidestepping her married boyfriend’s attempts at commitment, Iris Lockhart receives a stunning phone call: Her great-aunt Esme, whom she never knew existed, is being released from Cauldstone Hospital – where she has been locked away for over sixty years. Iris’s grandmother Kitty always claimed to be an only child. But Esme’s papers prove she is Kitty’s sister, and Iris can see the shadow of her dead father in Esme’s face. Esme has been labeled harmless – sane enough to coexist with the rest of the world. But Esme’s still basically a stranger, a family member never mentioned by the family, and one who is sure to bring life-altering secrets with her when she leaves the ward. If Iris takes her in, what dangerous truths might she inherit?
Maggie O’Farrell’s intricate tale of family secrets, lost lives, and the freedom brought by truth will haunt readers long past its final page.
From the Sunday Times bestselling author comes a gripping tale of obsession, superstition and ambition, set against the atmospheric backdrop of Victorian London. Be careful what you wish for… it may just come true.
By the pricking of my thumbs…
At The Mercury Theatre in London’s West End, rumours are circulating of a curse.
It is said that the lead actress Lilith has made a pact with Melpomene, the tragic muse of Greek mythology, to become the greatest actress to ever grace the stage. Suspicious of Lilith, the jealous wife of the theatre owner sends dresser Jenny to spy on her, and desperate for the money to help her family, Jenny agrees.
What Jenny finds is a woman as astonishing in her performance as she is provocative in nature. On stage, it’s as though Lilith is possessed by the characters she plays, yet off stage she is as tragic as the Muse who inspires her, and Jenny, sorry for her, befriends the troubled actress. But when strange events begin to take place around the theatre, Jenny wonders if the rumours are true, and fears that when the Muse comes calling for payment, the cost will be too high.
…Something Wicked this way comes
And I’ve been book buying…..
This is my most recent Renard Press Subscription book.
THE PROPHET by KAHLIL GIBRAM
Kahlil Gibran’s masterpiece, The Prophet, is one of the most beloved classics of our time. Published in 1923, it has been translated into more than twenty languages, and the American editions alone have sold more than nine million copies.
The Prophet is a collection of poetic essays that are philosophical, spiritual, and, above all, inspirational. Gibran’s musings are divided into twenty-eight chapters covering such sprawling topics as love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, housing, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death.
And this beauty arrived, complete with gorgeous prints/bookmarks from Galley Beggar Press
MALARKOI by ALEX PHEBY
NATHAN TREEVES is dead, murdered by the Master of Mordew, his remains used to create the powerful occult weapon known as the Tinderbox.
His companions, scattered, are making for Malarkoi – the city of the Mistress, the Master’s most powerful enemy. Hoping to find welcome there, or at least safety, they find neither… and instead become embroiled in a life and death struggle against assassins, demi-gods, and the cunning plans of the Mistress.
Only Sirius, Nathan’s faithful dog, has not forgotten the boy. Bent on revenge, he returns to the shattered remains of Mordew, newly deformed into an impossible mountain, swarming with monsters. He senses something in the Manse at its pinnacle – the Master is there, grieving the loss of his manservant, Bellows – and in the ruins of the slums he finds a power capable of destroying his foe, if only he has the strength to use it.
Hello and Happy Saturday!! There has been rain here in Essex!! This has made me happy LOL!! And yes I was that person who just went out in the garden to wander round as it poured down! Remind me of this feeliing when it’s September/October and raining everyday and I’m sick of it LOL!!
And it’s been a brilliant book week too!! The housework got forgotten and I sat my butt down at various points and got 6 books finished!! The deadline for 20 Books of Summer 2022 draws nearer and it’s amazing how that deadline pushed me into reading more! I need this to run every month!! There have also been a couple of Netgalley additions and I even treated myself to a book in Waterstones on a rare shopping trip with my niece, and fellow bookworm!
Travelling through the wilderness, a young woman has visions of a cathedral on a hill.The downtrodden wife of an archer seeks the truth in stone walls, in meadows full of garlic flowers.A group of soldiers sit out their last hours before their death under a vaulted ceiling.The professor receives unwelcome night-time visitors.A young man bids his dying mother goodbye, and sets off on his first day of work as a labourer.From these seeds of historical truth and strange mythology, Benjamin Myers spins an unforgettable story of love and loss that breaks free of realism, entering a thrilling space both hilarious and terrifying. Unfolding over centuries, deploying a panoply of voices, Cuddy is written with Myers’ inimitable humour, pathos and grace – and confirms him as one of the most important writers of his generation.
BEFORE YOUR MEMORY FADES by TOSHIKAZU KAWAGUCHI
publication date – September 2022
The latest novel in the international bestselling Before the Coffee Gets Cold Series, following four new customers in a little Tokyo café where customers can travel back in time.
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café that has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
From the author of Before the Coffee Gets Cold and Tales from the Cafe comes another story of four new customers, each of whom is hoping to take advantage of Café Funiculi Funicula’s time-travelling offer. Among some familiar faces from Kawaguchi’s previous novels, readers will also be introduced to a daughter, a comedian, a sister, and a lover, each with something they wish they had said differently.
With his signature heartwarming characters and immersive storytelling, Kawaguchi once again invites the reader to ask themselves: what would you change if you could travel back in time?
And my treat to myself in Waterstones was this beauty as I loved The Warlow Experiment so much!….
SEA CHANGE by ALIX NATHAN
‘I’ll be back soon, my love. Tonight, I hope.’
The last Eve saw of her mother was a wave from the basket of a rising balloon. A wilful, lonely orphan in the house of her erratic artist guardian, Eve struggles to retain the image of her missing mother and the father she never knew. In a London beset by pageantry, incipient riot and the fear of Napoleonic invasion, Eve must grow into a young woman with no one to guide her through its perils.
Far away, in a Norfolk fishing village, the Rev Snead preaches hellfire and damnation to his impoverished parishioners and oppressed wife. Snead illustrates his sermons with the example of a mute woman pulled from the sea, over whom he keeps a very close watch indeed.
EVERY TRICK IN THE BOOK by IAIN HOOD
publication date – September 2022
‘There’s only control, control of ourselves and others. And you have to decide what part you play in that control.’
Cast your eye over the comfortable north London home of a family of high ideals, radical politics and compassionate feelings. Julia, Paul and their two daughters, Olivia and Sophie, look to a better society, one they can effect through ORGAN:EYES, the campaigning group they fundraise for and march with, supporting various good causes.
But is it all too good to be true? When the surface has been scratched and Paul’s identity comes under the scrutiny of the press, a journey into the heart of the family begins. Who are these characters really? Are any of them the ‘real’ them at all? Every Trick in the Book is a genre-deconstructing novel that explodes the police procedural and undercover-cop story with nouveau romanish glee. Hood overturns the stone of our surveillance society to show what really lies beneath
Hello! Happy Saturday!! Still looking for rain to fall here so the garden is looking very sad as I’m running out of oomph to keep watering it all! So if you had downpours this week, please share!!
And it’s been a quiet bookish week too! I just can’t get going on the book front, although I have been distracted by reading Booker Prize Longlisted entries for some bizarre reason! So you can bet that the ones I manage to read before the shortlist is revealed won’t be anywhere near that list!!
When Leonie Baxter finds herself out of a job and out of a relationship, she’s at her wits end. Her life has just been turned upside down and she needs a plan, fast.
By chance, on a walk with her rescue puppy, Leonie stumbles across a striking house in the woods; fully furnished but unoccupied. As a journalist, she is determined to find out more, after all, reporting is in her nature.
But her attempts are thwarted by Lily Cruickshank who lives in the cottage next door. Why won’t Lily help Leonie? And who is the mysterious Flynn Talbot, whose letter Leonie finds inside the house?
And in uncovering the secrets of the abandoned house, will Leonie open her own heart and let love back into her life?
Hello and Happy Saturday!! Still way too hot here in the UK and I want the cloudy, cooler, rainier weather back NOW!!!
On to happier things, and that is books! Been a pretty good reading week with 3 books finished, 1 new addition from Netgalley and 3 bookish purchases as I had some vouchers burning a hole in my pocket!
Tracy Rees’s latest novel The Elopement is an elaborately imagined historical novel full of delight and temptation, spanning the luxury and poverty of late Victorian England.
A wealthy heiress . . . 1897. Rowena Blythe is wealthy, entitled and beautiful. As her twenty-fourth birthday approaches, she’s expected to marry – and to marry well.
An unsuitable match . . . Her parents commission a portrait of Rowena to help cement her reputation as a great society beauty. However, Bartek, the artist’s young assistant, is unlike any man Rowena has met before – wild, romantic and Bohemian. While society at large awaits the announcement of Rowena’s engagement, it is Bartek who captures Rowena’s heart along with her likeness.
A scandal in society . . . Rowena knows her parents would never approve of Bartek, who in their eyes is nothing but a penniless foreigner. As her feelings grow, she has no-one to turn to. Dare she risk everything for love?
And then I treated myself – it’s been a while!!
FLEDGLING by HANNAH BOURNE-TAYLOR
Read the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to reshape her identity when all normality has fallen away.
When lifelong bird-lover Hannah Bourne-Taylor moved with her husband to Ghana seven years ago she couldn’t have anticipated how her life would be forever changed by her unexpected encounters with nature and the subsequent bonds she formed.
Plucked from the comfort and predictability of her life before, Hannah struggled to establish herself in her new environment, striving to belong in the rural grasslands far away from home.
In this challenging situation, she was forced to turn inwards and interrogate her own sense of identity, however in the animal life around her, and in two wild birds in particular, Hannah found a source of solace and a way to reconnect with the world in which she was living.
Fledgling is a portrayal of adaptability, resilience and self-discovery in the face of isolation and change, fuelled by the quiet power of nature and the unexpected bonds with animals she encounters.
Hannah encourages us to reconsider the conventional boundaries of the relationships people have with animals through her inspiring and very beautiful glimpse ofwhat is possible when we allow ourselves to connect to the natural world.
Full of determination and compassion, Fledgling is apowerful meditation on our instinctive connection to nature. It shows that even the tiniest of birds can teach us what is important in life and how to embrace every day.
THE GARDEN OF EVENING MISTS by TAN TWAN ENG
Malaya, 1949. After studying law at Cambrige and time spent helping to prosecute Japanese war criminals, Yun Ling Teoh seeks solace among the jungle fringed plantations of Northern Malaya where she grew up as a child.
MEREDITH, ALONE by CLAIRE ALEXANDER
Meredith Maggs hasn’t left her house in 1,214 days.But she insists she isn’t alone.
She has her cat, Fred. Her friend Sadie visits when she can. There’s her online support group, StrengthInNumbers. She has her jigsaws, favourite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the Tesco delivery man and her treacherous memories for company.
But something’s about to change.
First, new friends Tom and Celeste burst into her life. Then an estranged sister she hasn’t spoken to in years.
Suddenly her carefully curated home is no longer a safe place to hide.
Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door . . .
Hello and Happy Saturday!! A lovely baby robin has been out and about in my garden this week so that’s been lovely to watch…. and keeping me on my toes making sure there’s enough food put out for him/her! A small price to pay!
And it’s been a much better bookish week too with 5 books finished this week, 2 of which were audiobooks! So yay! Now if only I was that motivated to get the reviews done…. And just 1 newbie for my bookshelves and nothing from Netgalley!
Just one from my subscription with the fabulous RENARD PRESS
FOGGERTY’S FAIRY by W.S.GILBERT
‘Take care. The consequences of an act are often much more numerous and important than people have any idea of.’
Today W.S. Gilbert is best known for the comic operas he produced in collaboration with Arthur Sullivan, a creative partnership that diverged over the supernatural. Unlike Sullivan, Gilbert was a great fan of fairy tales, and Foggerty’s Fairy, one of his most unjustly neglected plays, is a brilliant farcical comedy that hinges on the wish-granting of a fairy.
Loosely based on his short story ‘The Story of a Twelfth Cake’, Foggerty’s Fairy considers the dangers of playing with the past. Trying to shore up his relationship, a man enlists a fairy’s help to make a few tweaks in his past – he soon realises, however, these small changes have made great waves through time, and his present becomes unbearable.
Hello! Happy Saturday!! And we made it through the heatwave here in the UK – blooming heck it was hot! And normally when it’s hot it means I read more! Not this week! I think the heat just fried my brain and I failed miserably on the reading front!
Just one book finished for me this week, an audiobook, but 3 new additions to the Netgalley shelves – oops!
Soldier. Farmer. Felon. Writer. Father. Lover. One man, many lives.
Born in 1799, Cashel Greville Ross experiences myriad lives: joyous and devastating, years of luck and unexpected loss. Moving from County Cork to London, from Waterloo to Zanzibar, Cashel seeks his fortune across continents in war and in peace. He faces a terrible moral choice in a village in Sri Lanka as part of the East Indian Army. He enters the world of the Romantic Poets in Pisa. In Ravenna he meets a woman who will live in his heart for the rest of his days. As he travels the world as a soldier, a farmer, a felon, a writer, a father, a lover, he experiences all the vicissitudes of life and, through the accelerating turbulence of the nineteenth century, he discovers who he truly is. This is the romance of life itself, and the beating heart of The Romantic.
From one of Britain’s best-loved and bestselling writers comes an intimate yet panoramic novel set across the nineteenth century.
THE GIRLS WHO DISAPPEARED by CLAIRE DOUGLAS
publication September 2022
Three missing girls. A twenty year mystery. A woman who may be able to crack this cold case.
In a rural Wilshire town lies The Devil’s Corridor. A road which has witnessed eerie happenings from unexplained deaths to the sounds of a child crying at night.
But nothing more puzzling than the Olivia Rutherford case. Four girls drove home but after their car crashed only Olivia was found.
Twenty years later, journalist Jenna Halliday is covering the case. But the locals aren’t happy with this stranger’s arrival. Least of all Olivia.
Jenna soon starts receiving threatening notes and it is clear someone wants her out of this town before she suffers a dark fate . . .
THE LITTLE HOUSE BY THE SEA by TRACY REES
publication – August 2022
Bluebells bob in the salty sea wind and the cottage gate swings open to reveal the inky-blue cove. It’s exactly how Kitty always pictured it… except in her head, she wasn’t standing here alone.Kitty Roberts spends her days searching for the perfect home for two… until her boyfriend dumps her. Devastated, she flees to a tiny seaside village called Pennystrand, where she spent golden summers as a child, before her family fell apart.At first, Kitty’s dramatic escape proves to be exactly what she needs – golden sunsets over warm, sandy beaches, lovably eccentric new neighbours and even a blush-inducing run-in with Cory Hudson, a floppy-haired local surfer with a heart-stopping smile.But just as Kitty feels herself beginning to heal, Cory reveals that his time in Pennystrand is nearly up. What’s more, some strange reactions to Kitty in town make her wonder if her connection to this place might go deeper than she thought.
What is this tranquil little village hiding? It seems there’s a secret in Kitty’s past that is about to turn her life on its head once more… Is she ready for the truth? And will it bring her and Cory closer together, or drive them apart?
Hello! Hope you’re well!! I’m ok but melting in the heat!! Someone please make it stop!! And it looks to get even hotter in the UK next week….. I will never complain about grey skies and rain again… honest!!
BUT on the plus side, hot weather makes me read more!! It makes me conserve energy haha! So it’s been a good week with 5 books finished and only 1 addition from Netgalley!
Around the year 600, three men vow to leave the world behind and set out in a small boat for an island their leader has seen in a dream, with only faith to guide them
In seventh-century Ireland, a scholar priest named Artt has a dream in which God tells him to leave the sinful world behind. With two monks–young Trian and old Cormac–he rows down the River Shannon in search of an isolated spot in which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find the impossibly steep, bare island known today as Skellig Michael. In such a place, what will survival mean?
Hello! Happy Saturday!! Is it me or are these weekends coming round quicker than ever… and disappearing just as quick too?! A week of very hot weather awaits us here so I’m getting ready to hibernate as my freckly skin can’t cope with heat!!
And it’s been a pretty quiet book week with just 3 books finished and only 1 new NetGalley arrival! And I still have book tokens burning a hole in my purse!! What is wrong with me??!! The guilt of over filled bookshelves may have got the better of me!
A HISTORY OF LONDON COUNTY LUNATIC ASYLUMS & MENTAL HOSPITALS by ED BRANDON
publication date – 30th July 2022
From the Middle-Ages onwards, London’s notorious Bedlam lunatic hospital saw the city’s ‘mad’ locked away in dank cells, neglected and abused and without any real cure and little comfort. The unprecedented growth of the metropolis after the Industrial Revolution saw a perceived ‘epidemic’ of madness take hold, with ‘county asylums’ seen by those in power as the most humane or cost-effective way to offer the mass confinement and treatment believed necessary.
The county of Middlesex – to which London once belonged – would build and open three huge county asylums from 1831, and when London became its own county in 1889 it would adopt all three and go on to build or run another eight such immense institutions. Each operated much like a self-contained town; home to thousands and often incorporating its own railway, laundries, farms, gardens, kitchens, ballroom, sports pitches, surgeries, wards, cells, chapel, mortuary, and more, in order to ensure the patients never needed to leave the asylum’s grounds.
Between them, at their peak London’s eleven county asylums were home to around 25,000 patients and thousands more staff, and dominated the physical landscape as well as the public imagination from the 1830s right up to the 1990s. Several gained a legacy which lasted even beyond their closure, as their hulking, abandoned forms sat in overgrown sites around London, refusing to be forgotten and continuing to attract the attention of those with both curious and nefarious motives.
Hanwell (St Bernard’s), Colney Hatch (Friern), Banstead, Cane Hill, Claybury, Bexley, Manor, Horton, St Ebba’s, Long Grove, and West Park went from being known as ‘county lunatic asylums’ to ‘mental hospitals’ and beyond. Reflecting on both the positive and negative aspects of their long and storied histories from their planning and construction to the treatments and regimes adopted at each, the lives of patients and staff through to their use during wartime, and the modernisation and changes of the 20th century, this book documents their stories from their opening up to their eventual closure, abandonment, redevelopment, or destruction.