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on 15 August 2013
I first read this story whilst at University studying Literature and came across it again as a friend (similarly studying) said that she had been reading it and enjoyed it. It was free on Kindle so I downloaded it to read it again. I'm so glad I did. This is a brilliant study of a woman slowly losing her mind. We first encounter the female lead as a woman who is "ill" in some mysterious way, although her doctor husband doesn't really think there's anything all that much wrong with her (sounds like one of the doctors at my surgery! He must have been employed in the NHS!) Through the story we discover she's just had a baby but doesn't seem to be able to bear the child near her. Next we find that she's living in an attic room which used to be a children's nursery - or did it? The gnawed bed, torn wallpaper, barred windows and "fixtures" like rings to the wall strike the reader as immediately odd. Children's nursery? Gymnasium? Or padded cell for the keeping of the insane? Insanity is the clear theme in the story as the narrator identifies and then identifies too closely with a mysterious woman who appears to be caged behind the bars of the yellow wallpaper of the room.

It's a fabulous story with the woman's progression into insanity clearly charted through the story, and yet it is subtly done. I remember when we studied it at University there was talk of yellow wallpaper being tinted with lead in the late nineteenth century which might have led to the woman's insanity. They also used to colour it with urine too, which smelled as the woman describes in the story - but did not, as far as I know, lead to insanity. Or it could have just been a simple case of post-natal depression. Whatever your interpretation, this is a fabulous story and very easy to read.
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VINE VOICEon 1 May 2006
Charlotte Perkins Gilman provides a stunning and disturbing account of a woman's decline in madness. Margaret Atwood comments in the Blind Assassin that life is little more than a period of waiting interspersed with a few significant moments. For the nameless women in The Yellow Wallpaper, this is one of those moments. Over a three month period we see in acute and distressingly real detail how her inability to match her identity with the role of submissive wife that late Victorian society demanded leads to a steady, inexorable descent from sagacity to despair. Suffering from some unnamed illness - which modern readers might relate to post-natal depression, she is confined to a room for rest and sleep. Unable to find any outlet for emotion or intellect, she becomes obsessed with the room's wallpaper - its complex and endless pattern of pointless swirls. At first she just dislikes it, then hatred bordering on fear follows, to be usurped by a semi-dependent fascination and ultimately total identity: she becomes, not so much the wallpaper, but the embodiment of the creeping women who dwell, reluctantly, behind the pattern.

It is a picture of personal despair, of desperate attempts to retain sanity and ultimately of failure. On one level it's a chilling horror tale reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe. On another it is a clinically precise picture of a mental aberration. But it is more than that. A powerful indictment of the institution of marriage, of the social mores and misguided kindliness of late Victorian middle-class America, and of the treatment of women, Gilman's story is as timeless as it is authentic.
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on 5 December 2015
Well what can I say. This was a disturbing read but equally interesting. I love books where you need to read between the lines and not many authors can achieve this. The woman clearly had mental health issues, possibly post natal depression and due to being set in a earlier era....she was locked in a bedroom to 'rest'. You could clearly see her progression into insanity as you read on.
It was a clever book and although a quick read (I read in an hour with a cup of tea), it leaves you pondering about it for hours. Definitely disturbing to think of the lack of help there used to be over mental health all those years ago (still now I suppose) but hopefully we have gotten over the locking up stage. And the wallpaper!! Yes that is very cleverly done and chilling! A good read!
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on 1 May 2017
Excellent book. Rather unsettling to read. The story of a controlling husband which must have been very relevant in its day and sadly occasionally still relevant today.
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on 15 March 2017
Excellent story and very well written. I'm not going to give the plot away but I can say that it's a very short story with a biting twist to the end. Well worth reading.
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on 17 February 2016
Expertly menacing as the tension levels build. Fabulous writing by a woman who has clearly plumbed the depths of mental health issues. Amazing use of environment to describe a worsening state of mind.
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on 1 June 2017
I started reading this book for my English coursework, prepared to not enjoy it, however it was extremely engaging and thought provoking with a great ending. I would highly recommend to anyone, whether it's to study for English or just read for pleasure as it is thoroughly enjoyable and quite a quick read.
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on 26 March 2017
A fantastic book.
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on 12 September 2016
A very small book, but a very interesting read.
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