A History of Sanibel Island: Background information when reading Blue Asylum

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Blue Asylum

A Novel

by Kathy Hepinstall

Blue Asylum
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2012, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2013, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Mark James

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Beyond the Book:
A History of Sanibel Island

In Kathy Hepinstall's Civil War-era novel, Blue Asylum, Iris Dunleavy is sent to live in the Sanibel Asylum for Lunatics on Sanibel Island, Florida for the "act of defying [her] husband." Though the area is now considered a mecca for lovers of sea shells (SanibelHistory.org estimates that the resident population of about 6000 swells by 20,000 - 30,000 people per week during peak shelling season), it wasn't always such a relaxed place.

It is said that Sanibel Island formed about six thousand years ago. According to the Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce, the process was the result of sediment rising from the sea "after being shaped by centuries of storm activity."

map of Calusa territory Dating back 2,500 years, the main inhabitats of the island were the Calusa Indians who "skillfully transformed the waterways around the island into abundant riches of food and tools. Whelks, conchs, clams, oysters, and other seafood were used for food, and their empty shells were crafted into tools. The Calusa ...

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