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The Painted Bridge [Hardcover]

Wendy Wallace
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 13.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

24 May 2012
Outside London behind a stone wall stands Lake House, a private asylum for genteel women of a delicate nature. In the winter of 1859, recently-married Anna Palmer becomes its newest arrival, tricked by her husband into leaving home, incarcerated against her will and declared hysterical and unhinged. With no doubts as to her sanity, Anna is convinced that she will be released as soon as she can tell her story. But Anna learns that liberty will not come easily. The longer she remains at Lake House, the more she realises that -- like the ethereal bridge over the asylum's lake -- nothing is as it appears. She begins to experience strange visions and memories that may lead her to the truth about her past, herself, and to freedom - or lead her so far into the recesses of her mind that she may never escape...Set in Victorian England, as superstitions collide with a new psychological understanding, this elegant, emotionally suspenseful debut novel is a tale of self-discovery, secrets, and search for the truth in a world where the line between madness and sanity seems perilously fine.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK; First Edition edition (24 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857209272
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857209276
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 389,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I grew up in Kent, in England, and have spent my adult life in London. I worked first as a photographer, then for many years as a feature writer. My journalism led to my two non-fiction books - Daughter of Dust (Simon & Schuster 2009) and Oranges and Lemons (Routledge 2005). In 2001, I was Education Journalist of the Year.

I have now turned to writing fiction, which had always been my dream. The Painted Bridge, the story of a woman tricked into a Victorian asylum in the year 1859, is my first novel. My second, The Sacred River - about three women who leave a fog-bound London in 1882 for the light and heat of Egypt - appears in 2013, also published by Simon & Schuster..

I've been greatly helped and encouraged in my writing by my family, my agent and my writing friends. My two grown up sons are sources of inspiration. As well as enjoying company and solitude, reading and writing, I am an enthusiastic swimmer in the women's pond on Hampstead Heath.

To receive updates on my books and writing life, please 'like' my Facebook author page or visit my website.
http://www.wendywallace.co.uk
http://www.facebook.com/wendywallaceauthor

Product Description

Review

'A haunting look at women's asylums in 1850s England ... Wallace masterfully creates an atmosphere of utter claustrophobia and dread, intermingled with the ever-present horror of the reality of women's minimal rights in the 19th century' Publishers Weekly

'The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace is a soft, intricate and languid novel with a twist in the tale. This is a mesmerising first novel...' Red

'I was gripped by this fantastic book. Chilling, heart-warming, very well written and researched, this is an unusual novel about Victorian England' Rosie Boycott

'The Painted Bridge is something special: an intriguing and disturbing tale of the reality of women's lives behind the veil of Victorian respectability, which will have resonance today. Beautifully written and evoked' Rachel Hore, Richard & Judy bestselling author of A Gathering Storm

'An impressive debut with a captivating heroine and an absorbing storyline. A compulsive page-turner' --Catharine Arnold, author of Bedlam

'An emotionally charged gothic tale that will appeal to fans of the Victorian novels of Sarah Waters. Bella

'Gripping debut'

--Woman & Home

'The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace is a soft, intricate and languid novel with a twist in the tale. This is a mesmerising first novel...' --Red

'I was gripped by this fantastic book. Chilling, heart-warming, very well written and researched, this is an unusual novel about Victorian England' Rosie Boycott

'The Painted Bridge is something special: an intriguing and disturbing tale of the reality of women's lives behind the veil of Victorian respectability, which will have resonance today. Beautifully written and evoked' Rachel Hore, Richard & Judy bestselling author of A Gathering Storm

'An impressive debut with a captivating heroine and an absorbing storyline. A compulsive page-turner' --Catharine Arnold, author of Bedlam

'The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace is a soft, intricate and languid novel with a twist in the tale. This is a mesmerising first novel...' --Red

'I was gripped by this fantastic book. Chilling, heart-warming, very well written and researched, this is an unusual novel about Victorian England' Rosie Boycott

'The Painted Bridge is something special: an intriguing and disturbing tale of the reality of women's lives behind the veil of Victorian respectability, which will have resonance today. Beautifully written and evoked' Rachel Hore, Richard & Judy bestselling author of A Gathering Storm

'An impressive debut with a captivating heroine and an absorbing storyline. A compulsive page-turner' --Catharine Arnold, author of Bedlam

'The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace is a soft, intricate and languid novel with a twist in the tale. This is a mesmerising first novel...' --Red

'I was gripped by this fantastic book. Chilling, heart-warming, very well written and researched, this is an unusual novel about Victorian England' Rosie Boycott

'The Painted Bridge is something special: an intriguing and disturbing tale of the reality of women's lives behind the veil of Victorian respectability, which will have resonance today. Beautifully written and evoked' Rachel Hore, Richard & Judy bestselling author of A Gathering Storm

'An impressive debut with a captivating heroine and an absorbing storyline. A compulsive page-turner' --Catharine Arnold, author of Bedlam

About the Author

Wendy Wallace is an award-winning freelance journalist and writer based in London, whose articles have appeared in the Telegraph, the Guardian and the Scotsman. This is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent first novel 11 May 2012
Format:Paperback
The Painted Bridge begins in London, in the winter of 1859. Anna Palmer is tricked by her husband and incarcerated in a private asylum called Lake House. As she sets out to prove her sanity, she gradually gets to know the other inmates and to form bonds with women she would never normally have mixed with. Time passes, and she grows to like and respect these women, relying on their fortitude as a mirror for her own.
For me, story telling is all about the suspension of disbelief. I want to lose myself in a story. I want to see what the characters see, feel what they feel, be worried for them and hope for them. The Painted Bridge achieved this for me. Wallace's writing is intelligent and lyrical. She skilfully weaves historical detail throughout the narrative but the story is never bogged down by too much information. The characters take centre stage, most especially Anna, a young woman with a strong will and a keen sense of what's right and fair. Anna hopes to find an ally in Lucas St Clair, a visiting physician who believes that the new medium of photography may reveal the state of a patient's mind. As he says, `photography is the art of truth not of advertisement', and Anna hopes he will see her for who she is - a woman perfectly in control of her sanity who has been wronged by her husband.
But as the story unfolds, the intrigue deepens and Anna begins to discover her own truth, to understand her dreams and unveil her visions. She also learns the truth about the man she married, her husband Vincent, an odious character who acts out of self-interest and arrogance.
The Painted Bridge is a great read. It reminded me of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters - a plot that grips, vibrant characters and a sense of place that evokes London as both grimy and idyllic, imprisoning and freeing, depending on circumstance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Painted Bridge. 4 July 2012
Format:Hardcover
A superb first novel. Some novels are all plot but lack character development other are the opposite. This novel has everything a good book should have. A page turner of a plot, well researched and believable. Engaging characters who one comes to care about, who you know had a life before the novel and are left wondering how they will live on after. The novel has a fantastic sense of time and place. The dialogue flows naturally through the narrative. I finished it at 4.00am!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and emotional 21 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover
Effortlessly shot through with impressive research, The Painted Bridge is a beautifully written portrait of a time when women were locked away for not toeing the line.
The author's stylish prose drew me in from the start and as the story unfolded , I became immersed in the sense of imprisonment and disempowerment which must have experienced by women similar to the central character, Anna, in the 1850s.
I felt it was about how we may - even today - not necessarily have control over how we are perceived and how others treat us, that circumstance, as well as era, can choose to give a Reverend respect yet a strong woman like Anna is so easily dismissed as barmy, also how women can help as well as hurt each other.
Nothing is spelt out, and there's every reason to read on, one of those books where the reader feels they've played a part filling in between the lines instead of having everything spelt out. Satisfying, educational and emotional. Strongly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Am I Reading The Same Book? 14 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback
I am wondering if I'm reading the same book as all the other reviewers! I'm just over half way through and about to give up. Sorry but this book - and particularly the main character - just isn't engaging me. The characters are flat and there's not enough tension to keep me turning the page. If you want to read something on a similar theme but about a hundred times better, read 'Fingersmith' by Sarah Waters. You won't be able to put it down.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and researched 11 July 2012
By Rossi
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a brilliantly written and well researched book. It reminded me very much of Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, but most certainly came into it's own thanks to the strong main character of Anna Palmer.

Anna has been committed to Lake House, a place of rest for genteel ladies by her thoroughly unpleasant husband Vincent, a vicar who is hiding his cold and despicable personality behind his dog collar. Powerless to do anything when she realises Lake House is an asylum in disguise, Anna searches for ways to escape, but this comes with dragging days in which she feels completely isolated from the world apart from her wiry attendant Martha Lovely and the other lady inmates. The question is of course - are they really mad or has Lake House made them that way.

A very good first book with the plot and characters nicely portrayed, all in all an excellent read for those interested in Victorian fiction.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning novel 12 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved the Painted Bridge. Wendy Wallace paints such a vivid picture of wronged women - in particular the troubled heroine Anna - weaving into the story meticulous period detail and haunting description. You are gripped from the start. Anna is tricked into incarceration at Lake House for "a cure and rest" by her scheming husband. The author writes so evocatively that you want to break open the window that is nailed shut allowing just a whiff of fresh air into her tiny bedroom. You can almost smell the stale food, hear the moans and confusion of her fellow inmates against a background of the ticking clock; feel the tedium of empty day passing after empty day. She experiences lack of comprehension, indifference and cruelty (some of which is deeply shocking). But she is also the beneficiary of warm understanding from some to whom she is entrusted which opens up her own heart. To say more would spoil a brilliant read. Anna reluctantly comes to know her fellow inmates - some of whom have been locked up for nothing more than post natal depression, having an illicit affair or just being "different" - and share their secrets, hopes and fears. The plot twists and turns and all the while you are fascinated by the story being told. Nothing escapes the author's eye; fashion, social structures, domestic life, medicine, psychiatry and photography all come under her illuminating microscope. Men are not dismissed out of turn which makes this book even more sympathetic. They are weighed down by financial responsibilities, penned in by cultural expectations. In the 1850s no one can run free without paying a high price. This is a truly wonderful book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Tough reading indeed but well worth it.
Quite riveting ,found it hard to read at times because of content but brilliantly written. Thought about it for days after. Good read but maybe for women.
Published 3 months ago by Bluebellmaggs
5.0 out of 5 stars well worth a read
I found this book a compulsive read, it gives insight to a different structure of social standing, and the greater influences of men over women. A triumphant book.
Published 4 months ago by mystic
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping!
I really enjoyed this book, it's well written and had me gripped! At points I was nearly in tears and felt physically unwell due to the intricate and immersing descriptions of the... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Hankie
3.0 out of 5 stars Should be available on kindle
This book was ok as far as I am concerned I do find books in which women are treated abysmally by men, (historically) really hard to read. Read more
Published 11 months ago by antoinette
3.0 out of 5 stars Painted Bridge
Boring really. Expected more. Didn't really do anything till end of book. Repetitive in parts. Didn't appreciate title of book - not really relevant.
Published 13 months ago by Kathryn Laskey
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotional
Really enjoyed this book. An emotional story that at times was very sad, especially some of the ways in which the main character was treated. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Book reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Grppping
I borrowed this book from the library to read because it was my book club's book for May, and I was equally horrified and absorbed by the tale in The Painted Bridge. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Dee J Kirkby
5.0 out of 5 stars Be wary if you're taken visiting whilst reading this
Having recently read and enjoyed Blue Asylum I was interested to see how this book compared. At first appearing very similar - both set in the 19th century, both with heroines who... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Beadyjan
4.0 out of 5 stars Could have been more descript ending
Enjoyed the book , well written and the establishment well described but feel it could have had a more descript in happiness for ending
Published 15 months ago by Louise
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable quick read
I enjoyed this book and read it quickly. As some other reviewers have mentioned, there are some inconsistencies in the story but I did not feel this hampered my enjoyment of the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by jesa
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