Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review - The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts

1885. Anne Stanbury - Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems?

Edgar Stanbury - the grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity, and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life.

Dr George Savage - the well respected psychiatrist, and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne's future wholly in his hands.

The Medea Complex tells the story of a misunderstood woman suffering from insanity in an era when mental illnesses' were all too often misdiagnosed and mistreated. A deep and riveting psychological thriller set within an historical context, packed full of twists and turns, The Medea Complex explores the nature of the human psyche: what possesses us, drives us, and how love, passion, and hope for the future can drive us to insanity.
I will admit, I've always been kind of fascinated by Victorian Era asylums. I don't know why. With that in mind, I was super excited to read The Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts.

Lady Anne Stanbury has been committed to Bethlem Asylum following the murder of her newborn son by her own hands. She neither remembers her son or her husband. She believes she's been kidnapped and that her kidnappers just have yet to receive the ransom for her from her father. Doctor Savage has diagnosed her with something I can only assume (without doing research) is akin to Post-Partum Depression and believes her 100% curable with some work. Her husband both loves and hates her... both misses her and hopes she dies at the same time.

This book was interesting. It intrigued me to get an "inside look" in to an asylum in the 19th century. If I hadn't been so fascinated by it already, it would have surprised me how easily it is to be committed or deemed "insane" in that time period. It also would have surprised me how easily it is to diagnose incorrectly. Lets face it, while medical technology is always advancing and there is room for improvement in many areas, 19th century medicine just seems primeval compared to now. However, it also seems better in some aspects. But that's a different story and not one I'll bore you with now.

It also angered me just how horrible women were treated back then. Reading too much could get you committed, because women shouldn't read. They were supposed to cook and clean and run the house. What did they need reading for? You couldn't have an over-active imagination or you were declared insane. Patients were nothing short of tortured in these asylums and it was called treatment and deemed acceptable.

But back to the story.

So it was interesting. And I liked it for the most part. I'd read some reviews about editing errors (or lack of editing altogether) and grammatical mistakes and what not, but for the majority of the book it did not bother me. Nothing really jumped out at me as horribly wrong. Toward the end, however, I did notice where names were in incorrect places (i.e. Anne was called Grace and so was the nurse... all on the same page).

What really got to me was the attempt at writing in the dialect or accent of the person speaking. It was inconsistent and a lot of times made no sense. Mainly with the little maid Betty(?). It was just a little difficult to read her parts so I skimmed through them but made sure I at least got the general idea of what she was trying to say.

The story itself (grammar and editing aside) was actually quite good up until Lady Anne disappeared. I can't imagine being in her position, locked in an asylum but not really understanding what for... or rather... not believing that's where you were. Not knowing anyone or really being able to see the people you DID know and who loved you.

I can't, however, imagine having her husbands reaction. If my husband killed my newborn there would be no love left in me. None whatsoever. Take him away and let him rot, ya know? But Edgar has conflicting emotions, due in part I'm assuming, because of Anne's diagnosis. She couldn't possibly have been in her right mind could she? How can you blame someone for doing something if they don't even know that they're doing it, right?

I'm pretty sure it wouldn't matter to me.  Regardless.


After Lady Anne disappeared, things kind of got muddled for me (mostly because it was so hard for me to NOT skip the parts where anyone with an accent was talking). Who was the lady chasing the carriage that Beatrix was in? I can assume, again, that I know who she is. But I don't recall if it's ever really said for certain. And what in the world was Beatrix talking about while she was yelling at her?

I also don't recall if, at any time at the end of the story (or anywhere else in the book), the title of the book is explained. I would have expected that perhaps the good Doctor would have mentioned it, but I don't believe he did. I had to go and look it up when I was finished reading. That kind of bothered me.

I did enjoy, however, that the story was based on actual events and people. Even if there were some parts that were poorly written or poorly explained, it was an interesting read. And a quick one. Once you get to a certain point you kind of expect the ending so it doesn't disappoint in that aspect. I would recommend it if you're interested in lunatic asylums or Victorian era or both. If you can get past the grammatical errors and some of the mistakes, it's a pretty decent read.

1 comment:

  1. Who was the book based on? What was the true patient name?


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