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“Reading Lee Smith ranks among the great pleasures of American fiction . . . Gives evidence again of the  grace and insight that distinguish her work.” —Robert Stone, author of Death of the Black-Haired Girl

It’s 1936 when orphaned thirteen-year-old Evalina Toussaint is admitted to Highland Hospital, a mental institution in Asheville, North Carolina, known for its innovative treatments for nervous disorders and addictions. Taken under the wing of the hospital’s most notable patient, Zelda Fitzgerald, Evalina witnesses cascading events that lead up to the tragic fire of 1948 that killed nine women in a locked ward, Zelda among them. Author Lee Smith has created, through a seamless blending of fiction and fact, a mesmerizing novel about a world apart--in which art and madness are luminously intertwined.

Published: Workman eBooks on Oct 15, 2013
ISBN: 9781616203467
List price: $14.95
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Lee Smith has once again immersed us into the Southern landscape, this time with the backdrop of historical fiction. The main character, narrator Evalina Toussaint, is sent to a mental hospital, the actual Highland Hospital in Asheville, NC, when she is just 13. Because of her musical talent and personality, she is treated as a near daughter by the hospital administrator and his wife, and becomes a member of the hospital family. The fact that Zelda Fitzgerald was in fact one of the patients there at the time adds a particular interest, but all of the personalities described, whether fictitious or factual, become intriguing and real. Smith always seems very fond of her characters, but this novel is especially poignant for her as well as for us, I imagine, because her own father and son both spent time at this hospital, for which she expresses gratitude.read more
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Reviews

Lee Smith has once again immersed us into the Southern landscape, this time with the backdrop of historical fiction. The main character, narrator Evalina Toussaint, is sent to a mental hospital, the actual Highland Hospital in Asheville, NC, when she is just 13. Because of her musical talent and personality, she is treated as a near daughter by the hospital administrator and his wife, and becomes a member of the hospital family. The fact that Zelda Fitzgerald was in fact one of the patients there at the time adds a particular interest, but all of the personalities described, whether fictitious or factual, become intriguing and real. Smith always seems very fond of her characters, but this novel is especially poignant for her as well as for us, I imagine, because her own father and son both spent time at this hospital, for which she expresses gratitude.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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