Taking exception to her husband's cruel and inhumane treatment of his slaves results in Iris Dunleavy's banishment to a Florida island following a judge's verdict that she is insane. For all of the lush beauty that surrounds Sanibel Asylum it is most definitely not paradise and Iris intends to escape, taking with her Ambrose Weller, a confederate soldier haunted by his experience of the American Civil War.
From its sublime setting to its beguiling characters, this is a fascinating story encompassing a wide breadth of human experience.
Found it an easy read and created a good discussion. The characters were well written and the story gave an amazing insight into sanity/lunacy and love plus lives in isolation. Masterton 010
Well crafted and developed with great use of language. It evoked wonderful images. Cooks Beach 001
It generated a lot of discussion on mental health and changes in attitudes since the period in which the book was written. We would read more by this author. Auckland 050
A well-paced story with interesting characters and a few unexpected twists. Enjoyed by all. Tauranga 015
Great insight into the injustice of the times. Christchurch 240
We all enjoyed the book. Thank you.
Mixed feelings about this book. Some found it very depressing, others unrealistic - some really enjoyed reading it.
We all thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially its great language (especially metaphors, and economy of words when describing things and people). Our discussion was wide ranging, from the historical to mental health issues.
An easily read book that contained beautifully worded descriptive passages and left us all thinking. Much discussion about what constituted 'madness', and how mental health treatment has developed since the 19th century, especially in NZ.
We all unanimously loved this book, and it was rated the best one we've had so far this year. We really enjoyed the themes which came up in it - being a prisoner, the colour blue, the need to escape and the role of women. It really struck a chord with us and we all related to Iris and the other characters. It provoked a lot of discussion on madness, mental health, the role of doctors, the effects of war, the role of women, male dominance and what is considered 'normal' in society. We adored the characters and found them deep and meaningful.
We found the book interesting, and we had a good discussion about early psychiatric treatment of patients. We did not like the word 'lunatic'.
All our group enjoyed this book and would recommend it to other groups. Although sad at times, it was not heavy. It was well-written and 'period correct'. Easy to read and flowed well, and generated a lot of discussion on insanity, PTSS, women's rights and slavery etc.
Enjoyed - an example of the times and women's powerlessness against the male establishment.
Some thought the story somewhat false and unbelievable,others really enjoyed the writing and found the main character's problem solving and actions interesting, leading to a good ending.
An excellent read - the opinion of the group was that it was a book that couldn't be put down. Complex characters. We felt it was beautifully and skilfully written.
The group loved this book and found it easy to read. It generated a lot of mental health discussion as well as the terrible power some people have over others and the lack of human rights.