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Publisher's Summary

From our most celebrated writer of the psychological thriller comes this nerve-wracking yet eerily beautiful work of erotic obsession and madness. In the summer of 1959, Stella Raphael joins her psychiatrist husband, Max, at his new posting: a maximum-security hospital for the criminally insane. Beautiful and headstrong, Stella soon falls under the spell of Edgar Stark, a brilliant and magnetic sculptor who has been confined to the hospital for murdering his wife in a psychotic rage.

But Stella's knowledge of Edgar's crime is no hindrance to the volcanic attraction that ensues - a passion that will consume Stella's sanity and destroy her and the lives of those around her.

©1999 Patrick McGrath; (P)2008 BBC Audio

Critic Reviews

"The book is hypnotizing, with its own strange but darkly convincing pace and style; and the way in which nature and climate are woven into the fabric of the bizarre couple's strange love is masterly." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.8 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    146
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    154
  • 3 Stars
    99
  • 2 Stars
    40
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    21

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
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    193
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    93
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    34
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    9
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    5

Story

  • 3.7 out of 5.0
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    83
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    28
  • 1 Stars
    16
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Strong performance

This is a powerful, gothic, macabre novel that is enhanced greatly by Sir Ian McKellan's performance. Sir Ian played the role of Dr. Peter Cleave in the forgettable film version of 2005. Don't bother with the movie; this audiobook reminded me of why I loved this book. The story is an intense study of the madness of lust/love when one gives into it with utter abandon.

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What was the point??

Don't waste a credit. No plot or point to this story. Kept waiting for something, anything....

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  • callie
  • lewisville, tx, United States
  • 05-24-16

FANTASTIC !!

Would you consider the audio edition of Asylum to be better than the print version?

N/A

Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

Yes. The twists of this book always came out of nowhere. About halfway through I wasn't sure if there could be anything that kept the story going, but there was! Fabulous book

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Please do not waste your time.

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Perhaps some daft soul who enjoys mundane,and chaste love stories from the 19th. C.

What could Patrick McGrath have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

He might have included a forewarning that the contents are an excruciating bore.

Which scene was your favorite?

Umm...not one.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment, because I so respect Ian McKellen. But even this refined, and highly skilled actor could not do a damn thing with the vapid material with which he was presented.

Any additional comments?

Yes. May I have a credit please? As a salve; for your role in abetting this grievous, self inflicted wound.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Couldn't stop listening

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.

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Great Narration

This is well worth a listen! Narrated beautifully with great tonation and inflection. Offers some good suspense and twists throughout.

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Started Off Great - Then Suddenly Declined

Would you try another book from Patrick McGrath and/or Ian McKellen?

From this author, NO. From this narrator YES.

Has Asylum turned you off from other books in this genre?

Yes. I've read many books with asylum in the title. There seems to be the perfect ambient mix of dark romance, eerie other worldliness and potential for thrills in the use of the word 'asylum' in this genre. This book has taught me that it's time to move on. There's nothing worth reading or listening to here. It's the same boring re-hash.

Did Ian McKellen do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Yes. And for a change, I really enjoyed listening to a story told in the third person. Combined with his voice and the mood of the book, it really worked. I was engaged very quickly.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

The narrator was excellent.

Any additional comments?

This book hooked me - and from the first listen I was hoping for great things. The narrator does a good job telling the story from the third person and I took to the story straight away. The first hour was great and I was expecting a twist, but basically the wife has an affair and goes crazy. That's it. I was expecting so much more but it quickly slid into boring monotony. I have an hour left of the book to listen to, but I won't. TOO DAMN BORING.

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We'll written but bored me to death -

The last fourth and ending of this story made the entire book seem like a waste of time. I would not want to listen to this book even if it were free.

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Quick, but weird

What did you like best about Asylum? What did you like least?

The pacing is slow and tense. There is danger from the first second the reader starts listening.

If you’ve listened to books by Patrick McGrath before, how does this one compare?

I have not listened to any other books by this author.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Ian McKellen?

He has such an iconic voice. I would listen to epic novels by him.

Could you see Asylum being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

I could see Asylum being made into a movie or a TV series. The only one I have picked out to star would maybe be the guy who plays the guy with the curly cue beard in the Hunger Games.

Any additional comments?

Quick listen, but the main character makes some bad choices.

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Lust, Obsession, Mental Illness... a Love Story.

This was a truly moving noir account of obsessive lust and love between a psychiatric in-patient and the wife of the facility's director in 1959. The language and mood were poetic, striking, dark, and all-encompassing, and I was swept up in the beauty of the mania, depression and desperation. Rarely does a book move me emotionally with the craftsmanship of Asylum.