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 domesticity ...
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