Walls of Silence
The patient has a story that isn’t told and which no one knows of. It is the secret, the rock against which he is shattered. Carl Jung
The Great War is over but for Edith Potter an equally devastating conflict is about to begin.
She is unhinged by a secret so terrible her conscious mind doesn’t acknowledge it.
It is 1927 and Dr Stephen Maynard is using the new science of psychoanalysis to restore her sanity.
From his first meeting with her in the lunatic asylum, Dr Stephen Maynard is determined to bring her back to reality. During the long challenge, her disturbed behaviour forces him to confront his limitations – already severely stretched by the presence of someone prepared to use whatever weapons they can to ensure she maintains her silence.
This book starts off with that gripping hook that gives you all the disturbing feels, but you can’t stop reading on.
It is post wartime 1927 England, and the surroundings in this novel envelop that time period almost a century ago perfectly. Small town, neighborly feel…you have the market, your grocery store, the butcher, the baker, your local doctor and your church. Small town talk, small town whispers…everyone knows. But do they?
Edith Potter lives alone. Her father, a prominent Doctor in the field of psychology had been murdered and her mother passed away at child birth. Her grandmother aided more or less in her upbringing, but that was far from being a loved child. Now, a spinster of it’s time, in her forties, she isn’t feeling as she thinks she should and has nightmares. Is it grief? Her doctor thinks she is just experiencing some loneliness and gives her suggestions to cope. Edith’s favorite thing to do is tending to her roses. They are her joy and pride. She also is very verse in her father’s field of work and poetry. Amidst these, coping with some things from her past, she falls into a deep and dark depression.
We find Edith later in an asylum for the insane. Among filthy inhumane conditions, she is in a catatonic state and amongst the worst cases to be studied. Dr. Maynard is a budding Doctor with his own theses on the subject and has a chance to try some of his hypnotherapy on Edith, aside from the medications and electroshock therapy that the other doctors are using on the patients. When he recognizes that Edith is the daughter of the renown Dr. Potter, he takes a special interest in her. One that could further his career, but also one of personal liking to the patient. Can he safe her? Are his methods on the brink of a breakthrough or will his own vulnerabilities get in the way?
I enjoyed this intricate look into the methods of that time and Edith’s mind. The experience of reading her states go from docile, to angry or sly kept me wondering and guessing. I was sometimes really not sure if she was playing them all? Was she a step ahead? Was she faking anything or was this really her disturbed mind that made her be different from day to day or minute to minute. You want to read it to the end to get your answers, and even then, I am left speechless.
The writing to me was at times a little too long, but so is Edith’s arduous battle. It leaves you exhausted at moments. And although I recommend this book to others, just know you are going into some disturbing territory. If you are up for it, then this is the book for you.
I received a digital copy of 'Walls of Silence' from NetGalley in exchange of an honest review. All opinions are my own. Thank you!