Today my review for Matilda Windsor is Coming Home a contemporary novel by Anne Goodwin.
About the book
“In the dying days of the old asylums, three paths intersect.
A brother and sister separated for fifty years and the idealistic young social worker who tries to reunite them. Will truth prevail over bigotry, or will the buried secret keep family apart?
Told with compassion and humour, Anne Goodwin’s third novel is a poignant, compelling and brilliantly authentic portrayal of asylum life, with a quirky protagonist you won’t easily forget. Published by Inspired Quill.”
My review for the book 9th December 2021
This book is a behind the scenes drama played out behind the doors of a mental institution transitioning from a place to stash those who suffered from alleged mental disorders or lapses in moral judgment. Many living within these institutions may not have originally suffered from a mental impairment, but after fifty years within this closed and rigid environment, they have developed the inability to distinquish between reality and fantasy.
Told from three different perspectives we are introduced to Matilda (Matty), Janice and Henry who all have threads from the past keeping them from living life to the full.
Matilda’s story is heartbreaking and from an early age she was blighted by poverty, loss and abuse by those who should have kept her safe. She was a free spirit trapped by circumstances and the actions of others, and even behind the walls of this institution, there are those eager to take advantage of her vulnerability.
Her escape is the make believe world of princes and country houses in an era she felt most comfortable in. There is humour and logic behind her thinking and it was easy to fall in love with her mischievous approach to modern intrusions into her fantasy. However, after all the deprivations she has suffered, will she be able to move onto the more relaxed approach of community living?
Henry has been stuck in a time warp since his older sister he knew asTilly left when he was very young. He cannot move on as he is convinced that one day she will return to the house they shared fifty years ago. Now reaching retirement that dream is fading despite events in his neighbourhood that conspire to shake him out of his comfort zone. Can he let go of the past and move on to find love and a new life?
Finally Janice a young social worker, idealistic and convinced that she can prepare Matty for life in the new open community housing despite a number of setbacks during the process. Janice has her own past to explore as she becomes more disconnected from her adopted parents and sister and begins to question her role in mental health.
There are times, as events unfold and Matilda shares her childhood and teenage years, you as the onlooker are moved to outrage, despair but also admiration for the spirit that reached breaking point, only for it to escape instead into a fantasy world that provided comfort.
This is a thought provoking novel that is the first in the Matilda Windsor story, written by an author with first hand experience of the world of mental health institutions and the changing approach to treatment as a clinical psychologist. I look forward to discovering how the story unfolds in the next book.
Also by Anne Goodwin
About Anne Goodwin
Anne Goodwin writes entertaining fiction about identity, mental health and social justice. She is the author of three novels and short story collection published by small independent press, Inspired Quill. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her new novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, is inspired by her previous incarnation as a clinical psychologist in a long-stay psychiatric hospital.
Thanks for dropping by today and I hope you will enjoy Anne’s book as much as I did… thanks Sally.