Thoughts on: Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall

April 10, 2012

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall is a fictional book taking place in an insane asylum during the American Civil War. The lines between insanity and sanity are always blurred and this is especially true during war time.

The pub­lisher is giv­ing away one copy of this book—use the form at the end of the post to enter.

  • 288 pages
  • Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 10, 2012)
  • Language:English
  • ISBN-10:0547712073

Book Review: Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall

My rating for Blue Asylum – 4

Buy this book inpaperor inelec­tronicformat.

More book by Kathy Hepinstall

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall (website | blog) is a solid story which blurs the lines between what’s real & imaginary, sane & insane and right and wrong. The novel is short and fast paced with clear writing and excellent characterization. I could vividly see the characters, scenery and settings in my mind’s eye.

This is an intriguing book with compelling writing. Ms. Hepinstall has a wonderful linguistic gift which makes her work enjoyable to read. There are many themes to the book sanity, slavery, love, and more.
What is it like being sane in an insane world and being insane in an insane world are some of the subjects that are being touched on.

The character which I found most disturbing is Dr. Cowell, the superintendent of the asylum. Dr. Cowell is not a sadist, he is a good man and a good doctor who really believes his theories about the superiority of men over women. Dr. Cowell spends a lot of his time and money on helping the folks in the asylum – sometimes at the expense of his own family.

Yet Dr. Cowell cannot help his wife who is going mad, his son who is a self-professed lunatic (he’s not) and strongly believes in a method of torture to “help” the patients which he cares so much about and prescribes large amounts of medication to. Dr. Cowell also believes that those who live outside the norms of society are “insane”. A strange belief for a person who spent his life working outside the system and who works in a field where disproving previous theories is one of the few ways to make breakthroughs.
The hypocrisy, cynicism and unbeknownst to them sinister acts of a good person is something I find scary and, unfortunately, witness almost daily.

I enjoyed reading this book very much, but even though the author certainly shows a mastery of the English language, I felt that sometimes the symbolism and metaphors were more in-your-face in a novel which issues are not brought up and in an era where subtlety was key.

So tell me, what is your favorite book which blurs the lines between insanity and sanity?

During the American Civil War Iris Dunleavy, wife of a Virginia plantation owner, was put on trial and found to be insane. Mrs. Dunleavy was sent away to Sanibel Asylum to return to her former self of a compliant woman.

Confederate solider Ambrose Weller is terrorized by memories which can only be calmed by thinking of the color blue – until he meets Iris. Together Iris and Ambrose fetch a plan to escape.

Buy this book inpaperor inelec­tronicformat.

More book by Kathy Hepinstall


  • Give­away ends: April 17, 2012

  • US/Canada Ship­ping Addresses Only

  • No PO Boxes

  • Win­ners will have 24 hours to write back with their address, oth­er­wise an alter­nate win­ner will be picked

Congratulations: lomazowr@

TLC Book Tour forBlue Asylum:

Tuesday, April 10th:Man of La Book
Wednesday, April 11th:Veronica MD
Thursday, April 12th:Broken Teepee
Monday, April 16th:Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Tuesday, April 17th:The Lit Witch
Wednesday, April 18th:Life is Short. Read Fast.
Thursday, April 19th:Brandi Reads
Tuesday, April 24th:Reading Lark
Wednesday, April 25th:Hospitable Pursuits
Thursday, April 26th:My Book Retreat
Friday, April 27th:“That’s Swell!”
Monday, April 30th:Elle Lit
Tuesday, May 1st:The House of the Seven Tails
Wednesday, May 2nd:BookNAround
Thursday, May 3rd:Library of Clean Reads
Friday, May 4th:Book Journey
Wednesday, May 8th:Literature and a Lens

Zohar – Man of la Book
Dis­claimer: I got this book for free fromTLC Book Tours

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BOOK BLOGGERS – Have you read Blue Asylum? If so link up your review below:

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  • Sheila K.April 10, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Blue Asylum sounds like a good read—please enter me to win!

    skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

  • Sheila K.April 10, 2012 at 7:42 am

    I’m a Google+ follower (Sheila Korman)!

  • Miss. Lucinda FountainApril 10, 2012 at 7:55 am

    I would like to thank you for an apsolutely fantastic book giveaway that looks increadible, and that i really apreciate this being advertised on ‘Goodreads’. I would like to apologise for not being on GFC or similar and for not being a member of Twitter or Facebook. I will however try to spread the word about this amazing giveaway, to as many booklovers as i know! Xx

  • Carol WongApril 10, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I have already read this book so I am not entering this contest. I thoroughly agree with your comments on Dr. Cowell. Wouldn’t want to run into him, although I have met some like him.
    Thank you for this review.

  • NikkiApril 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    I wanted to read this before and want to read it even more now.

  • LizApril 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    “The lines between insan­ity and san­ity are always blurred and this is espe­cially true dur­ing war time.” Surely, never more so than during a civil war.

  • MargaretApril 10, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Sounds like a good one! Thanks for the giveaway!


  • BethApril 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    bethsbookreviewblog2 at gmail dot com

  • AnneApril 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    This looks like a Great Book it would be a dream come true to win it.

  • Jeffrey TretinApril 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    Thank you for the giveaway – An insane asylum during the civil war is an amazing and creative setting for a novel!

  • MarjorieApril 10, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Another fantastic review and giveaway from you.
    This book sounds like a good read to me.

    cenya2 at hotmail dot com

  • C.E. HartApril 11, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Wow. This sounds like a great story. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that took place in an insane asylum. 😉

  • Kristen N.April 11, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Thanks for the giveaway!

    GFC: Kristen N.

  • VesperApril 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    I have not read any books which come close to this book though I have seen a few films like Shutter Island

  • Heather J. @ TLC Book ToursApril 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I read a book a few years ago that was set mostly in an asylum just after the Civil War – what a horrifying place it was! I can’t imagine having to live in a place like that.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  • Carrie at In the Hammock BlogApril 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    thanks for the contest, i’d really like to read this!

  • Sara KovachApril 15, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Networked blogs and G+ – Sara Kovach

  • Carol MApril 15, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I would love to read this! It sounds good!
    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  • Carol MApril 15, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Google+ – Carol M

  • CarolsueApril 15, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Facebook/Networked Blogs: Carolsue Anderson
    Google +: Carol Ezovski
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  • Anita YanceyApril 15, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Sounds like a very interesting book. Thanks for having this giveaway.

    Google/Network Blogs Name: Anita Yancey

  • Les JohnsonApril 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Sounds like an interesting read.

    katja9_10 at hotmail dot com

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