Sunday, 30 May 2021

Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin

Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin
Published in the UK by Inspired Quill yesterday, the 29th May 2021.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"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.

I quickly grew to love the character of Matilda Windsor. She has had to resort to an imagined inner life in order to cope with the extreme unfairness of her life, and I was fascinated by her interpretations of life within the longterm psychiatric institution. Anne Goodwin tells Matilda's story from three viewpoints and I really appreciated how this gave me much deeper insights into British mental health services at a time of great change in the 1980s. There is a real clash of ideologies between the old guard who treat patients as little more than recalcitrant children, and new social work staff who encourage them to develop their own opinions and make individual choices. I remembered several of the wider world events alluded to throughout the novel and felt the atmosphere of that era came through in an authentic way.

Goodwin contrasts how Matilda's life was restricted in the 1930s with how her social worker, Jen, lives at the same age fifty years later. I thought this worked brilliantly well to illustrate the differences between social attitudes in the two eras, but the prejudice against people with mental health problems persisted with certain local residents being angered by the thought of a care in the community home being located in their particular community. Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home is such a poignant novel and I am relieved that women are no longer treated as shabbily as Matilda was throughout her life. 

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1 comment:

  1. In a lot of ways we've come a long way with mental health. Some of the things they had to live through back then... A powerful story.