Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

A review of Wildthorn by Jane Eagland, in which the heroine has been wrongfully incarcerated in an insane asylum.

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken

BOOK REPORT for Wildthorn by Jane Eagland

Cover Story: Walk of Shame
BFF Charm: Eventually
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: Back and Forth
Bonus Factors: Asylums, LGBTQ
Relationship Status: You Remind Me Of An Ex ...

Cover Story: Walk of Shame

Thank goodness I got this as a library ebook, or I might as well be walking around yelling, "HI I LOVE BODICERIPPERS FOR TEENAGERS!! WANT TO BE MY FRIEND?" And we already know that's not the easiest way to make friends. Yeah, the book IS a historical romance for teens, and YES that's what I wanted to read so YES the cover is why I picked the book, but do I want to silkscreen that on a t-shirt? Not today.

The Deal:

Louisa's your typical historical fiction heroine -- plucky, headstrong and at odds with contemporary social conventions. She's meant to start work as a companion for a wealthy young woman, but is tricked into an insane asylum. The staff of the asylum insist she's Lucy Childs, not Louisa Cosgrove. Louisa knows she upset her family with her desires to become a doctor and her behavior towards her cousin Grace, but she has no idea who is behind her incarceration -- and she's determined to find out.

BFF Charm: Eventually

I like Louisa, but I find her naivete hard to swallow. She's been so indulged by her father that she has no idea how to pay social calls, and is supposed to be brainy, but takes FOREVER to figure out what's going on in the asylum. I prefer my headstrong heroines to be more like Margaret Hale or Elizabeth Bennett. By the end of the book, I'd probably be willing to present her with a charm.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Louisa's puppy love crush on her cousin Grace is bittersweet, and Eagland does a good job describing how it feels to pine for someone who's totally crazy about someone else. The forbidden element of homosexuality makes both that crush and her relationship with Eliza, one of the asylum attendants, more poignant, even though the characters feel like they were sent from central casting (send me one plucky, headstrong bluestocking and one fresh-faced country girl!).

Talky Talk: Back and Forth

Eagland reveals Louisa's story through little glimpses of her memories as she struggles to survive in the asylum. The flashback structure is a way to hide Louisa's enemies, but it really just drags out the big reveal. Eagland's writing has its moments, and there's a lot of tension and trickery.

She's far away now, lost in the moment she is reliving, her hand trembling like a frightened bird.

"Don't talk about it if it upsets you."

She lifts her head and looks at me through her tears. "It's all right. I'm glad to speak of these things to you because I think you believe me. You do, don't you?" Her violet eyes are tunnels.

"Yes, yes I do." I respond instantly. And it's true.

Bonus Factor: Asylums

Who doesn't love a good asylum? The mentally ill and the plain social nonconformists were horrifically abused in the Victoria Era, and its valuable to look at the damage caused by stigma and taboo and lack of compassion.

Bonus Factor: LGBTQ

Hooray for lesbians in teen lit! Especially when there AREN'T big ol' warning labels on the cover or jacket copy. The love story between Louisa and Eliza is sweet and gets a little racy, and while homosexuality obvs has to be treated as an issue because of the time period, it's not An Issue and not the reason Louisa gets locked up. Silly people, it's because she uses her brain! And everyone knows girls don't have brains.

Casting Call:

Kiera Knightley as Louisa

She's a bit old now, but I feel pretty ambivalent toward Keira Knightley. Therefore she's a good candidate for a character towards whom I'm ambivalent. And she's good at being anachronistic in costume dramas, so bonus.

Relationship Status: You Remind Me Of An Ex ...

This book wasn't bad, but it really reminded me of this book I used to date, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, so I kept comparing the two. I think if I hadn't dated the other book first, I would have appreciated this one a lot more, but the other book just did Gothic mystery and intrigue better, so it was impossible for this one to really measure up to the constant comparisons.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.