Thursday, 24 May 2012


Genre:  Historical Fiction
Published:  Simon & Schuster  (May 2012)
Pages:  386  (Hardcover)
Source:  Publisher
My Rating:  9/10

About the Book:

An elegant, emotionally suspenseful debut, The Painted Bridge is a story of family betrayals, illicit power, and a woman sent to an asylum against her will in Victorian England.
Just outside London, behind a high stone wall, lies Lake House. In the winter of 1859, Anna Palmer becomes its newest patient. To Anna’s dismay, her new husband has declared her in need of treatment and brought her to this shabby asylum.     Confused and angry, Anna sets out to prove her sanity, but with her husband and doctors unwilling to listen, her freedom will not be won easily.

"The appearances of things are deceptive"

The book is set In the 19th century when some women were so powerless that if their husbands/family decided they were too much trouble and wanted rid of them they put them into an asylum for an indefinite time, and they could do little about it.

This is what happened to Anna Palmer, 24, when her bully of a husband, the Reverend Vincent Palmer, left her at Lake House, a private asylum for genteel women of a delicate nature.

She meets allies and enemies, cruelty and kindness there.  Allies in the form of Lucas St. Clair, a photographer who was convinced that by studying the inmates photo a diagnosis of their condition could be made …. and whether they were mad or not, and the owner’s teenage daughter, Catherine, who loved reading poetry and who was a constant worry to her mother.   Cruelty in the form of Fanny Makepeace, matron, who took a dislike to Anna and tried to make her life even more miserable.

You could not help but have sympathy for how Anna and the rest of the ladies were treated, most of whom were as sane as she was, but how could they prove it when no-one listened to them. Anna was an intelligent woman who was determined to find a way to escape and I was willing her to do just that.

Anna’s view from her bedroom window was the Lake and the bridge:
It was a white bridge, stretching from one side of the lake to the other, delicate and ethereal, its three shallow arches a row of half-moons that seemed to float on the surface of the water.   The bridge was the most beautiful she’d ever seen, like something from a painting or an illustration for a fairy tale.

As I gradually realised while reading nothing is as it seems and I loved the way the author teases us with assumptions.  

The writing was vivid with an interesting cast of larger than life characters, the story was compelling and never boring, and the details of the treatments some women endured will live long in my memory. The heroine, Anna Palmer, is sometimes docile but could also be strong-willed when necessary and I really warmed to her.

This is a book you will not forget in a hurry and one that I would certainly recommend.

Special Thanks to the publishers for sending me this book to review.

I am thrilled that the Publishers, Simon & Schuster, have very generously donated 10 (yes, 10!) books to give away to 10 lucky winners. If you would like to have your very own copy of this intriguing book all you need to do is:

Leave me a comment
Add your email address
by the closing date of Thursday 7th June 2012
This is open to UK and International readers.
One entry per person please.
Winners will be selected at random and contacted by email.

And that's not all ! I am just as excited to tell you that Wendy Wallace has written a little piece for my blog about the story and how she came to write The Painted Bridge, which you can read all about tomorrow.

So, don't forget to check back then, and good luck to everyone who enters the giveaway!


  1. I would really love to read this book. Please enter me in the giveaway.

  2. It's so sad that people were shoved away in asylum's to get rid of them. This one sounds interesting and I would love to read it. Thanks for the giveaway.


    1. Yes it was terrible the way these women were treated, it is a really interesting read, I think you will enjoy it.
      Good luck!

  3. The Painted Bridge keeps coming to my attention Carole! Enjoyed your review - sounds as if it is emotive. Please add my name to the bag to win a copy.

    shaz (dot) goodwin (at) sky (dot) com

    1. I think you would really enjoy it, Sharon. Wendy is a great storyteller.
      Good luck!

  4. This sounds fascinating! I would love to win a copy! olivia1987uk[@]googlemail[dot]com

  5. Sounds like an intriguing read. Would love to win a copy.

    Email is

  6. You're entered in the draw!
    Good luck!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Fab review! I'd love to win a copy.

  9. This sounds an excellent read, I'm always fascinated by the historical attitudes to women and mental health. Please add my name to the draw!

    1. I'm sure you would enjoy reading this.
      Good Luck!

  10. I need all the escapism I can get as we're a 3 generation family with my 85 years young mother living with us and 27 year old son still living at home...!!! The synopsis of this book sounds right up my street

    1. P.S email address is ;-

  11. Hi Diane, that's quite a range of ages in your house!
    Good Luck in the draw!



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