A historical fiction and medical thriller that takes place in the early 1900's and deals with many difficult issues for women at this time.
Emeline Evans wants to do more with her life than be a housewife. In college, she volunteered with the nursing group and decided she would like to continue in that field along with the other strong, independent women she met there. Before she can ask her father for permission, he becomes ill and abruptly passes after a surgery. The family becomes destitute with no one working for a living. So, Emeline does the only thing she can think of to help her family's financial situation immediately- get married. After a quick marriage to aspiring lawyer John Dorr, Emeline is moved to the small town of Labellum, Missouri into a strange house with even weirder furnishings. Emeline feels that the house harbors all of her worst nightmares. Now, stuck in an in-affectionate marriage, Emeline feels as if she is slowly being driven crazy in her own home and with nothing productive to do with herself.
This book touches upon many important topics for women in the 1900's and is done in a wonderful and believable way. From Emeline's lack of options to further herself in life, to the belief that hysteria was the actual migrating of a women's uterus to her brain and the still present debate over abortion, author Stephanie Carroll outlines many struggles a women would have faced and how these issues could escalate very quickly. I felt very attached to Emeline's story throughout; from her slip into insanity and digging herself out in the best way possible. I liked that the story was not only focused on Emeline's fall into hysteria and why no one would believe her, but Emeline's own determination to fight the battles raging in her head and in her house to come out on top. I also appreciated the house, rooms and furnishings as characters themselves; the slow reveal of what Emeline is battling within her and the rooms is very interesting. I wish Emeline and John Dorr's relationship was explored a little more in the end, I did feel that it wrapped up a little too quickly.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.