Interpreting historical fiction within a contemporary context - for example, reading Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain as a commentary on the 1990s, the time in which the book was published - and searching for modern meanings in stories set in the past seems to be a favorite pastime of literary critics. Recreational readers may scoff at such efforts, but scholarly and casual readers alike will welcome Kathy Hepinstall's novel, Blue Asylum.
It's ostensibly a love story, but what emerges is an exposé of a nation and culture steeped in the hubris that allowed the legacy of slavery and the denial of basic civil rights to all but white males flourish well into the 20th century.
The novel is set during the American Civil War at a time when women enjoyed few rights, and, not unlike the present state of affairs, the country was caught in the conservative/liberal partisan divide. Iris ...
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