Hmmm... What can I say about his book? I definitely recommend that you read it to form your own opinion.
I really, really enjoyed reading this. I found it difficult to put down at night. Maggie O'Farrell did a wonderful job with descriptions. I felt as though I were standing in Cauldstone Hospital, seeing the color of the walls and smelling the disinfectant. I found it very difficult to believe that human nature would allow such atrocities to happen; even though it's clear in many parts of our hidden history that this happened in many cases where a "diagnosis" was simply an excuse to put someone away. I had tears in my eyes. I felt as though a part of me had been ripped away.
Selfish, vain, 'it's okay as long as the world revolves around me'... Kitty is a quietly ferocious creature. And it's obvious to me that Kitty's and Esme's mother was a weakling who wanted her life to be quiet and perfect and when a challenging child was preventing that, it was deemed that the child was mad. When Esme needed more understanding from her own family rather than more time spent on her own or with her ayah, Jamila, they got rid of her because it was too embarrassing for the family.
Now Iris... I longed for a little more description as to how she actually felt about this entire situation. I found I was forming my own opinions, relating how I would feel in the story. Which led to slight disappointment in the end. I didn't feel what should have been an overwhelming rush of emotions on so many different levels. In my opinion, the ending kind of petered out.
The beginning sucked me in and kept my rapt attention. Then throughout, I had to work slightly at understanding how the characters felt and was occasionally surprised at having to re-read different passages because I had guessed wrong at their feelings. Then, what I was hoping for at the ending just didn't come to light. When I am reading a book and I have put part of myself, and that part being a small effort, into this book, the ending really should give me what I need. And I felt that it fell short of my expectations.
Overall, it was a really good read. Even if only because it simply brought to light the inept and insufficient system of diagnosis and hospitalization of so many "patients" that has been rampant in our historical past. Very interesting and heart-breaking.