In this “deliciously spooky” Victorian Gothic, a woman’s past could be the death of her—if she can remember it (The New York Times Book Review).
Confused and disoriented, Georgina Ferrars awakens in a small room in Tregannon House, a remote asylum in England, with no memory of the past few weeks. The doctor, Maynard Straker, tells her that she admitted herself under the name Lucy Ashton, then suffered a seizure. When she insists he has mistaken her for someone else, Dr. Straker sends a telegram to her uncle. The reply is chilling: Georgina Ferrars is safe at home with him in London.
Suddenly her voluntary confinement becomes involuntary. Who is the woman in her uncle’s house? Which woman is the imposter? From a cliffside cottage on the Isle of Wight to the secret passages of the asylum, the perilous quest for answers draws Georgina only deeper into a web of hidden family ties on which her survival, and her sanity, depend.
“Redolent with a sense of foreboding . . . A splendid read!” —Historical Novel Society, Editors’ Choice
“Readers are guaranteed a thoroughly diverting time in Harwood’s not-to-be-trusted hands.” —The Independent
“Harwood, master of creeping Victorian horror, does it again. . . . Twisted in every sense of the word.” —Booklist
As he did in The Ghost Writer and The S ance, Australian author Harwood evokes Charles Palliser and Louis Bayard in his engrossing third stand-alone Victorian thriller. In the first sentence, Georgina Ferrars declares, "I woke, as it seemed, from a nightmare of being stretched on the rack, only to sink into another dream in which I was lying on a strange bed, afraid to open my eyes for fear of what I might see." Alas, Georgina finds herself in a Cornwall asylum, whose sinister director, Dr. Maynard Straker, tells her that she arrived the previous day, November 1, 1882, and identified herself as 21-year-old Lucy Ashton. With no memory of the previous six weeks, Georgina is hard-pressed to refute Straker. Only gradually do the events that led to her confinement become clear. The crisp prose and twisty plot will encourage many to read this in one sitting, though the ending won't satisfy everyone.