2 stars. The writing is haunting, lyrical, and poignant-all those buzz words that describe a great writer doing a great job; I love the way Jayne Anne Phillips constructs her sentences. But the actual story was not so great-I just couldn’t connect with any of the characters.
The violence/sexual was too much. I did like the pictures and drawings in the book. I have taken several tours of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and Phillips really brings it to life as almost another character; it is a powerful setting and a perfect backdrop.
My main problem with the book was that it kept falling apart. It was a decent story and then there would be a picture or drawing and boom, we were off on a back story or a different perspective and it just didn’t work for me. And the violence/sex stuff was YIKES. Here is another book that should be LABELED so as not to catch readers unawares. The whole book was more or less a collection of short stories that were tied (loosely) to the story of ConaLee and Eliza.
To sum up-this one is 2 stars and I don’t recommend because of the sex/violent content; which is a shame because Jayne Anne Phillips is an awesome writer. If you appreciate phrasing and evocative narrative-then maybe you can overlook the shortcomings in the plot. This was not a book for me. I was given a copy of this book-this is my own opinion.