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The Darlings of the Asylum

The Darlings of the Asylum

⭐⭐⭐.5 3.5 out of 5 stars

In Brighton, at the end of the nineteenth century, Violet Pring dreams about a life for herself. While her family tries to force her into a sensible marriage with her wealthy friend, that would solve all their financial problems, she considers herself an aspiring artist. Encouraged by a famous but controversial painter, Violet decides to stand her ground. Following her desires, she causes a series of scandals, and the consequences are drastic…

The Darlings of the Asylum is a fascinating historical novel. The first half of the story reads like a Victorian book. It has a story, language, atmosphere and ideology, especially concerning the situation of women, typical of Victorian fiction. O’Reilly managed to present the position of young women at the turn of the century in a relevant, detailed and highly readable way. The social standards were strict and unforgiving, and reputation was everything, sometimes to the point of life and death. The slightest misconduct could lead to isolation, cruelty or, like in Violet’s case, a mental institution. This book is an extremely promising read until somewhere in the middle of the book. Then, a sudden plot twist turned the story in a direction I did not expect and did not especially like. In the end, it seemed, at times, like a contemporary novel dressed in a Victorian costume.

Thank you, NetGalley and publisher, for providing the arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


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