Asylum by John Harwood - review by Simon Baker

Simon Baker

Missing Persons

Asylum

By

Jonathan Cape 257pp £14.99 order from our bookshop
 

When Georgina Ferrars wakes up one morning in 1882, she is amazed to find that she is not at the London home of her uncle Josiah but at Tregannon House, a lunatic asylum in Cornwall, with no memory of the events of recent weeks. To make things worse, everyone refers to her as Miss Ashton, since it was under the name Lucy Ashton that she presented herself the day before to the head of the asylum, Dr Straker, seeking help. Her luggage is marked with the initials ‘LA’ and her clothes are all unfamiliar to her.

At first a resolution appears easy, even if her presence at the asylum itself is puzzling. The woman is a voluntary patient and Tregannon House is a modern asylum, so a telegram home seems certain to clear up the confusion. But the reply from Josiah Ferrars states that Georgina is

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