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The Painted Bridge Hardcover – 24 May 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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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: 15.3 x 3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 390,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A beautiful cover, lovely endpapers, a few well-chosen words from Emily Dickinson, and then a striking opening scene.

A woman was suspended, upside-down, and a young man was taking her photograph. He was a doctor, and his hypothesis was that the picture he took of her face would reveal the secrets within her mind.

It's not just striking, it's very clever and its beautifully executed. My expectations were cleverly shifted and questions about what was really happening filled my head. I was entranced.

A carriage pulled up outside. Mrs Anna Palmer, the young wife of an elderly clergyman arrived. She thought she had come to meet friends of her husband, but she was wrong. She had been very cleverly tricked, and she found herself incarcerated in Lake House, a private asylum for gentlewomen.

First she was astonished and then she was outraged. But she was utterly trapped. By the power of a cruel husband, by the strictures of Victorian society, and by her own nature.

Anna had spirit, she had a calling, but she found that to be taken as proof of madness. I must confess that I had doubts, I questioned her sanity. The line between vocation and obsession, sanity and insanity, can be so very fine...

But I cared. I knew that Anna did not belong at Lake House. I wondered how important sanity was, and indeed what it was.

Anna found friends. Dr St Clair was young and idealistic. Talitha Blatt seemed as same as Anna. Catherine Abse was a bright young woman. But one was an employee, one was an inmate. one was the daughter of the house. All constrained in different ways. They could give some help, some support, but the could not give Anna her freedom.
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