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.”Amazon.com
“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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