Not crying, really. Sobbing.
I admit it. I am a sucker for a good story. And I am a sap when it comes to sad stories. And if those sad stories have happy endings, I’m done for!
That being said, let me fully recommend this book!
There are two story lines: One beginning in 1929 with Clara Cartwright and the other in the early 1990’s with Izzy Stone.
Circa 1990: The stint Izzy’s mother spent in an asylum after fatally shooting Izzy’s father while he slept haunts Izzy possibly more than the murder itself. She is terrified that her mother’s insanity has somehow been passed down to her.
So when her new stepmother, Peg, requests her help with cataloging the items from the now-closed Willard Asylum, Izzy is mortified. Not wanting to disappoint Peg, however, she agrees.
Circa 1929: Clara Elizabeth Cartwright is in love. Albeit with a man her “high-standing in the community” father will never allow her to marry. Standing up to her father to assert her refusal to marry an abusive man whom she does not love gets her sent to a home for “nervous invalids.”
With the stock market crash, her father can no longer afford her care and Clara is transferred to the Willard Asylum, her steamer trunk in tow.
When Izzy opens Clara’s trunk decades later and finds Clara’s journal, she is determined to find out what happened to her.
Tavia Gilbert‘s portrayal of the many characters is spot on. The voices of the characters are represented in rich and smooth intonations that are often soothing and velvety and at others charged and ravaging. The characters are immediately recognizable by their cadence and their accents. All together lending a wonderful performance of a heart-wrenching novel.