This book was well done...only 4 stars because it ended so abruptly. I think a lot of people are missing the point here...the doctors "treating" the patients can be as obsessed and dangerous in their thinking as their patients, given the right circumstances...that's what was so engaging. Peter's faulty treatment of Stella, clouded by his desire for her rather than her successful recovery, made him as dangerous as the other inmates which ultimately resulted in her death. Very interesting premise and subtle which can make it seem at first like a simple case of adultery.
loved it. I was never bored with the story. the tragic twists of it made it even better. I loved how the point of view changed but was so effortless that it didn't break the story weirdly like other books and stories do.
Female, Military Background, Mother, Wife. Enjoys Science, Medicine (in particular viruses and diseases).
For those who have seen A Boxcar Named Desire, this will make sense. Throughout the book, in a young Marlon Brando voice, I kept silently screaming "Stellaaaaaaa!!!" Doesn't detract from the book at all, but it seems important to note.
This book offers the readers insight to the suffocating trap of being a woman in a culture and time when women had no rights. Like "Shakespeare's Sister," Stella makes dangerous decisions forced to compromise the morality imposed on her by class and her gender. Lots of good twists and Sir Ian McClellan is outstanding.
The best thing about Asylum was its narrator, Ian McKellen. His character is ingenious and subtly sly by turns, and goes from being an observer to a player with a silky ease that's quite disturbing.
I would have edited out some of the information that's nonessential to the plot. There are several scenes in the book that seem more like filler than anything that actually moves the plot forward in any sort of meaningful way.
McKellen's is the voice of the book - he's not only the narrator, but also a primary character as the action unfolds. His voice lures you into believing that he's simply telling the story of two ill-fated lovers and the fallout from their affair, not that he is intimately involved with all of the characters involved. His seemingly innocent retelling of their tale is made worse when you realize he had a subtle hand in the characters' actions and their ultimate downfall. His hands-off and seemingly benign non-intervention is made more sinister when you realize he could very well have prevented much of the tragedy that takes place as the narrative moves toward its conclusion.
I think it was the dawning realization that the narrator had a direct role in the outcome that really got to me. It was a slow realization, and was revealed over time through related conversations and casual asides - not presented as a big "ta da!" It made the horrible events more horrible because so many of them could have been prevented with a little intervention on the part of the narrator. Instead, he stood back and with a cold eye watched the ruin of several lives running its course, rather than intervening. His own reasons were never directly revealed, although they were fairly obvious by the book's end.
It's a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. That said, while we were on vacation together, my sister kept asking me what was going on while I was listening, and when I'd tell her, she'd say it seemed exceptionally slow and unexciting. It wasn't what I'd call an "exciting" book, exactly, but more a close examination of several lives ruined by misplaced ideals and fictional notions of love imposed over a reality that matches neither. If you're looking for a high-octane/fast-action type of novel, this probably isn't for you. If you're willing to enjoy a carefully crafted study of obsession, madness, and coldly calculated inaction and ambition, then you'll probably enjoy it quite a bit.
Ian McClellan is a delight to listen to. The story was intriguing and kept me engaged the whole way through. I couldn't wait to come back to it when I had to stop for work.