Synopses & Reviews
Put on trial by her slaveholder husband and convicted of madness by a Virginia judge, Iris Dunleavy has been sent to the very expensive Sanibel Asylum to be restored as a good plantation wife. She will, the institution's superintendent assures her, be convinced of her wrongdoing, but Iris knows that her husband is the real criminal and that her efforts to gain restitution for herself and his slaves were wholly justified, especially in the eyes of God.
Sanibel Asylum is populated by the most wonderful lunatics: Lydia Helms Truman, who swallows anything in sight and was sent to the asylum by her husband after she attended the Seneca Falls convention; a man who finds himself stranded in the most inconvenient places because his feet are suddenly too heavy to move; a woman who can still see her dead husband and who remains blissfully in love, dancing with him on the beach some sunsets; and Ambrose Weller, a Confederate soldier whose memories of war terrorize him into wild fits that require sedation with laudanum, but whose gentleness and dark eyes beckon to Iris.
The institution is meant to be modern and encouraging, but Iris is skeptical of the superintendent's methods, particularly a much-whispered-about "water treatment." And she is no lunatic, only wrongfully accused by her cruel, abusive husband and the justice system built around protecting his property, which includes his plantation, his slaves, and her. She plots her escape and, having fallen in love with Ambrose, vows to take him with her.
Iris has the sharp wits and good looks of Scarlett O'Hara and Ambrose broods as seductively as any Rhett Butler, but their mutual cause here is not just true love but also true freedom, as they each yearn for a world of honor and peace.
"Hepinstall (The Absence of Nectar) exquisitely illustrates the fate of societal outsiders in this richly compelling Civil War era tale of the former mistress of a Virginia plantation, now confined to a beautiful island asylum, and her burgeoning love for a traumatized Confederate soldier. Deemed insane by a judge after defying her husband, Iris Dunleavy insists to the well-meaning but arrogant doctor of Sanibel Asylum, Dr. Henry Cowell, that she is sane. Meanwhile, veteran Ambrose Weller fights to maintain control of his war-torn emotions. As the horrors of Iris and Ambrose's pasts are slowly revealed, both Dr. Cowell and his alienated young son, Wendell, are irresistibly drawn to Iris, even as she plans her escape and wrestles with her love of Ambrose. Deftly interweaving past and present, Hepinstall sets the struggles of her characters against the rigidity of a traditional Southern society and the brutality of war in an absorbing story that explores both the rewards and perils of love, pride, and sanity itself. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In the midst of the American Civil War, a southern plantation owner's wife is arrested by her husband and declared insane for interfering with his slaves. She is sent to an island mental asylum to come to terms with her wrongdoing, but instead finds love and escape with a war-haunted Confederate soldier.
Put on trial by her slaveholder husband and convicted of madness by a Virginia judge, Iris Dunleavy is sent to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a good wife. But Iris knows her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of violating Southern notions of property.
A pompous superintendent heads this asylum populated by wonderful characters, including his self-diagnosing twelve-year-old son, a woman who swallows anything in sight, and Ambrose Weller, a Confederate soldier whose memories terrorize him into wild fits that can only be calmed by the color blue, but whose gentleness and dark eyes beckon to Iris.
The institution calls itself modern, but Iris is skeptical of its methods, particularly the dreaded "water treatment." In this isolated place, she finds love with Ambrose. But can she take him with her if she escapes? Will there be anything for them to make a life from, back home?
Blue Asylum is the rich, absorbing story of a spirited woman, a wounded soldier, their impossible love, and the call of freedom.
casts a spell that keeps the reader turning pages as if in a trance. The horrors of the Civil War are made real and specific in this story of a wounded soldier and a persecuted wife who find love and hope on an isolated island in the Deep South. Kathy Hepinstall is a master storyteller in full command of her craft." Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, author of A Woman of Independent Means
"Blue Asylum is a gripping story of love and madness in the midst of the Civil War—I couldn't put it down!" Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House
"With Blue Asylum, Kathy Hepinstall presents the reader with the rare and delicious quandary of whether to race through and find out what happens to her characters or to linger over her vivid, beautifully crafted sentences. For me, the only resolution was to read it twice." Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound and When She Woke
Amid the mayhem of the Civil War, Virginia plantation wife Iris Dunleavy is put on trial and convicted of madness. It is the only reasonable explanation the court can see for her willful behavior, so she is sent away to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a good, compliant woman. Iris knows, though, that her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of disagreeing with him on notions of justice, cruelty, and property. On this remote Florida island, cut off by swamps and seas and military blockades, Iris meets a wonderful collection of residents--some seemingly sane, some wrongly convinced they are crazy, some charmingly odd, some dangerously unstable. Which of these is Ambrose Weller, the war-haunted Confederate soldier whose memories terrorize him into wild fits that can only be calmed by the color blue, but whose gentleness and dark eyes beckon to Iris. The institution calls itself modern, but Iris is skeptical of its methods, particularly the dreaded "water treatment." She must escape, but she has found new hope and love with Ambrose. Can she take him with her? If they make it out, will the war have left anything for them to make a life from, back home? Blue Asylum is a vibrant, beautifully-imagined, absorbing story of the lines we all cross between sanity and madness. It is also the tale of a spirited woman, a wounded soldier, their impossible love, and the undeniable call of freedom. http://www.hmhbooks.com/blueasylum/
"Excellent pacing and strong character development . . . animate not only the inmates at the Sanibel Asylum but the characters from the preasylum lives of Iris and Ambrose. A first-rate choice for fans of intelligent historical romances." —Library Journal, starred review
"A first-rate choice for fans of intelligent historical romances."—Library Journal
, starred review Amid the mayhem of the Civil War, Iris Dunleavy is put on trial by her husband, convicted of madness, and sent to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a compliant Virginia plantation wife. But her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of disagreeing on notions of cruelty and property. On this remote Florida island, Iris meets a wonderful collection of inmates in various states of sanity, including Ambrose Weller, a Confederate soldier haunted by war, whose dark eyes beckon to her. Can love in such a place be real? Can they escape, and will the war have left any way—any place—for them to make a life together?
"An absorbing story that explores both the rewards and perils of love, pride, and sanity."—Publishers Weekly "With Blue Asylum, Hepinstall presents the reader with the rare and delicious quandary of whether to race through and find out what happens to her characters or to linger over her vivid, beautifully crafted sentences. For me, the only resolution was to read it twice." —Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound and When She Woke "A gripping story of love and madness in the midst of the Civil War—I couldnt put it down!"—Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House
For fifty years, Anna Schlemmer has refused to talk about her life in Germany during World War II. Her daughter, Trudy, was only three when she and her mother were liberated by an American soldier and went to live with him in Minnesota. Trudy's sole evidence of the past is an old photograph: a family portrait showing Anna, Trudy, and a Nazi officer, the Obersturmfuhrer of Buchenwald.
Driven by the guilt of her heritage, Trudy, now a professor of German history, begins investigating the past and finally unearths the dramatic and heartbreaking truth of her mother's life.
Combining a passionate, doomed love story, a vivid evocation of life during the war, and a poignant mother/daughter drama, Those Who Save Us is a profound exploration of what we endure to survive and the legacy of shame.
About the Author
Kathy Hepinstall is the author of three previous novels, The House of Gentle Men (a Los Angeles Times bestseller), The Absence of Nectar (a national bestseller), and The Prince of Lost Places. She is an award-winning creative director and advertising writer, whose clients have included top brands in American business. She grew up in Texas.