Frances Wilson

Vice Squad

Trials of Passion: Crimes in the Name of Love and Madness


Virago 434pp £20 order from our bookshop

In Trials of Passion, Lisa Appignanesi returns for the third time to the theme of women on the verge of nervous breakdowns. She first opened this Pandora’s box in Mad, Bad and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors from 1800 to the Present, an encyclopaedic examination of the ways in which doctors have understood women’s more extreme emotional states, from frenzies, possessions, manias, delusions and dramatic tics to anorexia, erotomania and multiple personality disorder. This was followed by All About Love: Anatomy of an Unruly Emotion, in which Appignanesi dissected the domestication of the most unpredictable and high-risk emotion of all. How does a feeling as explosive as love operate in a place as controlled as the family unit? How much love is enough, how much is too much and how little is criminally little? 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter