Colleen’s Book Reviews: “Matilda Windsor is Coming Home,” @Annecdotist

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

“Matilda Windsor is Coming Home,” by Anne Goodwin

“In the dying days of the old asylums, three paths intersect. A brother and sister separated for fifty years and the idealistic young social worker who tries to reunite them. Will truth prevail over bigotry, or will the buried secret keep family apart? Told with compassion and humour, Anne Goodwin’s third novel is a poignant, compelling and brilliantly authentic portrayal of asylum life, with a quirky protagonist you won’t easily forget. Published by Inspired Quill.”

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“Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home” is a poignant reminder of what life was like in a mental asylum in the UK when the policy shifted from institutionalization toward the assimilation of patients back into community living. Even more interesting is the character of Matty Osborne. The story crosses, weaves, and intersects in the lives of Matty, her brother, Henry, and Janice, Matty’s social worker.

Not sure about accepting the position, Janice accepts after meeting with Matty in the Institution. The intention of the medical staff is to move the patients to a more suitable living environment. The older lady intrigues her, and Janice wants to help find Matty’s family. There are some interesting connections between Matty and Janice, who was adopted as a baby.

Henry, the brother, still lives in the family home. He’s in a relationship with a married woman, yet remains obsessed with why Matty left all those long years before. He stays in the home because he hopes one day, his beloved sister will return.

But it is Matty that steals your heart. She narrates some of the story hinting at some of the horrifying details of rape and incest by her step-father. The cruelness of the man doesn’t end there, and Matty finds herself institutionalized. Trauma does strange things to a person, and Matty retreats into a delusional world. Matty spends fifty years in the asylum. Her story chilled me to the bone.

In the asylum, Matty still believes World War II is carrying on. She assumes she is a fine lady attended by many servants. In reality, these are her nurses and medical personnel. Interestingly, she supposes the rest of the patients are people she is helping by providing shelter to those homeless from the war.

The story is fascinating and horrifying, at the same time. Anne Goodwin uses her years as a clinical psychologist to weave realistic characters and situations you will not easily forget. Her attention to detail makes her writing shine. I can’t imagine anyone reading this book and not being moved by the characters. They draw you in and won’t let you go!

I doubt Matty will come out of her protective shell enough to assimilate back into society. But like they say, time will tell. If the title of the book is a sign, there is hope for Matty. The rest of the story will reveal itself in the sequel. I can’t wait to find out if my intuition is correct!

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Colleen’s Book Reviews: “Sugar and Snails,” by Anne Goodwin, @Annecdotist

Featuring Your Next Weekend Read!

At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.

When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Sugar and Snails describes Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.

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My Recommendation

Diana, a shy and reserved middle-aged professor, enters into a relationship with the recently divorced Simon. This relationship causes her to rethink her past and her future in ways she never imagined. She realizes things can’t go on the way they are. If she wants a normal life with Simon, she must resolve the guilt she carries from her childhood.

This midlife crisis propels the woman on a journey of self-discovery. At fifteen, Diana and her parents made a decision that changed her life forever. Now, she has to deal with the reality of that mysterious trip to Cairo all those long years ago.

Diana’s past remained a secret, and not even her closest friends knew the truth. To make matters worse, this guilt eventually cripples her as an individual. She is reclusive and painfully shy.

By the time her secret is revealed, I found myself speechless, as I’d never fully guessed the true nature of her mystery. But this story isn’t about the mystery so much as it is about Diana and how she deals with the past so that can move on with her future. In the end, Simon didn’t matter. But Diana’s relationship with Simon was the mechanism that forced her to come to grips with the past.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Anne Goodwin, but it won’t be the last. I stayed up late into the night enthralled by the writing, and with Diana’s character. This is an unusual coming of age tale, even though the protagonist is middle-aged. Some themes in this book deal with sexuality, self-harm, and identity. This is a must-read for anyone who ever felt different as a child or misunderstood!

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 If you have your book listed on BookBub, I will add my review there also!  Click HERE to follow me! (Colleen M. Chesebro) Let me know in the comments if you follow me so I can follow you!

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I also share my reviews in the Literary Diva’s Library on Facebook. Click HERE to apply for membership.

Disclaimer: This blog post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a tiny amount from qualifying purchases. If you purchase from the Amazon.com link above, I earn a small commission to fund my reading habit. Amazon will not charge you extra, and you’ll keep me supplied in books that I can review. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.