Book Review: Wildthorn

Book Review: WildthornWildthorn by Jane Eagland
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on February 6th 2009
Pages: 359

Seventeen-year-old Louisa Cosgrove longs to break free from her respectable life as a Victorian doctor's daughter. But her dreams become a nightmare when Louisa is sent to Wildthorn Hall: labeled a lunatic, deprived of her liberty and even her real name. As she unravels the betrayals that led to her incarceration, she realizes there are many kinds of prison. She must be honest with herself - and others - in order to be set free. And love may be the key...


Wildthorn starts off innocently enough. A young girl with a "normal" Victorian family. Add in a little turmoil, plus sibling jealousy. And a girl's life changed forever.

The plot of the novel is very simplistic. A young girl, who may or may not be who the reader believes she is, is forced into being committed into an asylum for reasons that are not all too clear. As the story processes, the reader is lead on the road of their own discovery. Is Lousisa who she thinks she is? Or does she really deserve to be locked away? Eagland deliciously leaves this and other little tidbits up to the reader's imagination.

To be honest, going into the tale, I did not have the slightest clue that it would include the LGBT theme. While some readers may be put off by this topic, I assure you that love story is handled in a completely tasteful way. Eagland highlights the beauty of love in a simplistic and beautiful way. And at its heart, that is exactly what Wildthorn is… a love story pure and simple.

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7 responses to “Book Review: Wildthorn

  1. Jazz Sexton

    An unreliable narrator and GLBT theme sounds like win to me! I don’t know what you mean by the relationship being handled in a “tasteful way.” Does that mean narrow minded people don’t have to worry about girls kissing?

  2. Saying that it was handled in a tasteful way sort of assumes that some people would find a GLBT love story offensive or tasteless. If they do, they need to readjust their worldview, because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with GLBT people. You shouldn’t have to acknowledge ignorant people in your review. After all, a reviewer would never need to say “Don’t worry–yes Anna and the French Kiss has a heterosexual love story, but I assure it was handled in a tasteful way.” Something to think about.

  3. Kate

    Sadly some people do find GLBT themes offensive. However, by tasteful the focus was more on the physical than the emotional. Eagland builds the relationships of the novel in a way that goes beyond labels. Leading one to focus more on the relationships as a whole vs the gender of the pair. Wildthorn is perfect for readers who may not normally pick up a GLBT novel but may be willing to give one a try.

    And it is not a matter of acknowledging ignorance but rather acknowledging that readers have different view points and encouraging some to think about reading outside of their possible comfort zone. Most would not take the leap without understanding the scope of what they are getting into.

  4. Jazz Sexton

    Thank you, your follow-up comment clears that up. I wish it had been in the review to begin with. I enjoy seeing relationships that explore characters based on their personalities rather than their genders.

  5. I really really loved this book and I think it’s good that you said it was done in a tasteful way because of, well, what you said in the comment- too many wouldn’t even give it a try because they’d hear it was GLBT and would immediately dismiss it, and really this is one they should definitely give a try.
    Great review IMO.

  6. Jo

    Actually, what I found thought-provoking about this book was the whole scary factor of her being committed without her consent or knowledge. I thought this book did a nice job of handling that time period, and how this DID happen to many women.

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