Set in one of the mental institutions of the late 19th century, Asylum follows Dr. Charcot as he attempts to unravel the mysteries of hysteria through experiments on and public demonstrations from one of the inmates, a woman named Augustine. He and Augustine are drawn to one another, connected by their work and by each one’s fascination with the other.
The book is not told in a traditional narrative format, which sometimes makes it tricky to unravel what is happening and to whom. Instead, it follows a logic I might call dreamlike or even madhouse logic. Things happen, sometimes beyond the boundaries of expectation and often without explanation. Readers looking for a traditional story where all is laid out in black and white would be advised to look elsewhere.
Those who enjoy an unsettling tale, however, or who wish to try something more experimental than their ordinary fare, will find a story dark, twisted, and beautiful. It is fascinating and will hopefully inspire others to look into the history behind the novel.
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