BWB REMEMBERS THE BOOKS OF OUR CHILDHOOD (3 OF 3)
The third and final part in our Children’s Book Week series on the books that BWB employees remember from their childhood. Don’t forget...
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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.
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