The Painted Bridge gives a harrowing glimpse into the lives of women admitted in asylums during the late nineteenth century. The story follows newly married Anna Palmer who –tricked by her husband – becomes a ‘resident’ of Lake House, a private asylum. Her initial incredulity over her situations soon give way to a strong sense of injustice over her forced stay in the asylum and the conditions patients endure there.
The initial premise was really intriguing, and Wendy Wallace does accurately portray the cruelty and unfairness that the women at Lake House face. Anna’s firm belief of not being unwell like the other patients does create a divided between her and the other women. Through the story however, after enduring barbaric treatments, she soon grows to understand them. I think Anna was a very believable character who is likeable for her strength and determination. Despite desperately wanting to leave Lake House she finds herself putting her friend’s needs in front of her own ones. For this reason she was very admirable.
However, the other characters, did not make the same impact. I found that the other point of views were not a strong. Instead of adding more depth to the story they served as a distraction. Characters like Lucas simply lacked Anna’s complexity.
The story itself accurately portrayed the injustice that women were made to endure. Wallace writes of Anna’s denial of freedom. While being interesting the story did lack something, an ‘oomph’ of sorts. Perhaps it is because, besides Anna, other characters were a bit bland, that I was never truly engrossed by some of the events. I felt that it was missing something. While I was reading it, I was expecting that certain ‘something’ to happen, and it never did.
So, while The Painted Bridge does not offer the most original story, it does provide readers with a main character they can admire and care for.
My rating: 3 stars
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