An episodic novel that revolves around a Victorian mental institution's residents and neighbors, The Quickening Maze
follows Dr. Allen and his family, patients, and staff from the autumn of 1837 to the spring of 1838. Though Adam Foulds draws from real personages - including John Clare and Alfred Tennyson before his tenure as Poet Laureate - it is not his reimagining of the Victorian past that ultimately stands out as much as the threading of multiple narratives and his tenacious characters, all of which elevate an otherwise competent historical fiction into a more complex study of misplaced desires. He creates firm distinctions between desires that are possible and those that are delusions, juxtaposing normalcy with madness to highlight how all these various men and women approach their problems.
Portraits of weddings, fireside conversations, and other scenes of...
Beyond the Book
The Quickening Maze
is based on real events in the lives of English poets John Clare and Alfred Tennyson. Tennyson, better known as Lord Tennyson (even though he was well into his eighth decade before becoming a peer) will be familiar to most of us for a handful of his better known poems including The Charge of the Light Brigade
, one of the many works written during his 42 year tenure as Poet Laureate to Queen Victoria.
But what of John Clare? Born of humble rural origins in 1793, Clare spent much of his life as a tradesman and laborer. Though he received...