by Stephanie Carroll
Named a 2013 Best Cross-Genre Title by USA Book News.
Not all Gothic novels are horror stories. Not all haunted houses have ghosts. Not all thrillers are predictable. Not all love stories have romance. Some novels aren’t simple. Some are simply maddening…
At the close of the Victorian Era, society still expected middle-class women to be “the angels of the house,” even as a select few strived to become something more. In this time of change, Emeline Evans dreamed of becoming a nurse. But when her father dies unexpectedly, Emeline sacrifices her ambitions and rescues her family from destitution by marrying John Dorr, a reserved lawyer who can provide for her family.
John moves Emeline to the remote Missouri town of Labellum and into an unusual Gothic house where her sorrow and uneasiness edge toward madness. Furniture twists and turns before her eyes, people stare out at her from empty rooms, and the house itself conspires against her. The doctor diagnoses hysteria, but the treatment merely reinforces the house’s grip on her mind.
Emeline only finds solace after pursuing an opportunity to serve the poor as an unlicensed nurse. Yet in order to bring comfort to the needy she must secretly defy her husband, whose employer viciously hunts down and prosecutes unlicensed medical practitioners. Although women are no longer burned at the stake in 1900, disobedience is a symptom of psychological defect, and hysterical women must be controlled.
A Gothic Victorian novel of madness and secrets, A White Room presents a fantastical glimpse into the forgotten “Cult of Domesticity,” where one’s own home could become a prison and a woman has to be willing to risk everything to be free.
Inspired by classic Victorian novels The Yellow Wallpaper, The Secret Garden, and Wuthering Heights, author Stephanie Carroll has taken women’s and nursing history in fiction to an all new level of experience in this mesmerizing debut.
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