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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

GIVEAWAY!!! "Blue Asylum" by Kathy Hepinstall~Sanibel Island Never So Wild As This!

"Amid the mayhem of the Civil War, Virginia plantation wife Iris Dunleavy is put on trial and convicted of madness.  It is the only reasonable explanation the court can see for her willful behavior, so she is sent away to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a good, compliant woman.  Iris knows, though, that her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of disagreeing with him on notions of justice, cruelty and property."


Please see the Trailer on my sidebar!!!!

Library Journal
Iris Dunleavy must be mad. Why else would she have accompanied slaves trying to escape from her husband's Virginia plantation? When she arrives at the asylum on Florida's Sanibel Island in 1864 after being declared insane by a doctor and a judge, she tries to convince her captors of her sanity. Although the patients generally receive humane treatment, Dr. Cowell, the superintendent, applies the "water treatment" to those like Iris who remain defiant. As Iris's friendship with Ambrose Weller, a Confederate soldier who cannot cope with battlefield memories, deepens, Dr. Cowell's own attraction to the rebellious Iris grows. Determined to escape with Ambrose, Iris enlists the help of Dr. Cowell's 12-year-old son. Memories and revelations of events that led to the incarcerations of Iris and Ambrose slowly emerge and call into question what constitutes madness. VERDICT Hepinstall's (The House of Gentle Men) fourth novel features excellent pacing and strong character development that animate not only the inmates at the Sanibel Asylum but the characters from the preasylum lives of Iris and Ambrose. A first-rate choice for fans of intelligent historical romances. [See Prepub Alert, 10/31/11.]—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato

Particulars of the Book:

Published by:  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages:  270
Author's website:  Kathy Hepinstall  but I must say; she's illusive!

The Illusive Ms Hepinstall:

Kathy Hepinstall is the author of three previous novels, The House of Gentle Men (a Los Angeles Times bestseller), The Absence of Nectar (a national bestseller), and The Prince of Lost Places. She is an award-winning creative director and advertising writer, whose clients have included top brands in American business. She grew up in Texas.
"Features excellent pacing and strong character development that animate not only the inmates at the Sanibel Asylum but the characters from the preasylum lives of Iris and Ambrose. A first-rate choice for fans of intelligent historical romances."
Library Journal, starred review

"Hepinstall exquisitely illustrates the fate of societal outsiders in this richly compelling Civil War–era tale of the former mistress of a Virginia plantation, now confined to a beautiful island asylum, and her burgeoning love for a traumatized Confederate soldier... Deftly interweaving past and present, Hepinstall sets the struggles of her characters against the rigidity of a traditional Southern society and the brutality of war in an absorbing story that explores both the rewards and perils of love, pride, and sanity itself."
Publishers Weekly

"A deep sense of the natural world, often-lyrical prose, and some touches of southern Gothic help carry along this tale of obsession and redemption."

"With Blue Asylum, Kathy Hepinstall presents the reader with the rare and delicious quandary of whether to race through and find out what happens to her characters or to linger over her vivid, beautifully crafted sentences. For me, the only resolution was to read it twice."
—Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound and When She Woke

"Blue Asylum is a gripping story of love and madness in the midst of the Civil War—I couldn’t put it down!"
—Kathleen Grissom, author of The Kitchen House

"Blue Asylum casts a spell that keeps the reader turning pages as if in a trance. The language is lyrical but the plot is taut and compelling. The horrors of the Civil War are made real and specific in the story of the wounded soldier and the persecuted wife who find love and hope in the unlikely setting of a supposedly enlightened insane asylum on an isolated island in the Deep South. Kathy Hepinstall is a master storyteller in full command of her craft."
—Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, author of
A Woman of Independent Means

The Dame Tells All :  April 29th, 2012
Well, not exactly all because I don't yet have all the information I wish I could share with my very special readers this time.  Ms Hepinstall is humble and reluctant to "give it up" about her work, it seems.  There isn't much from her court about this fabulous book, but we did try to dig for you. I tried everything I could do this week to see if I could ferret out some more news for us.

Why, you'll wonder, did I go to such an extreme over "Blue Asylum?"  It's because I live in Naples, FL, and I go to Sanibel Island at least 5 times a year, easily as many times as I have to see my doctors...  Wait, that wasn't a good example, was it?   I wasn't talking about my therapist....  :P 

I mean the Hunk, our little Yorkie~Clara,  and I love to go to the beach there, see if we can see which mansion was Oprah's (maybe it's still one of Oprah's hide outs.  Is it, Oprah???), and we bike and eat great soft serve ice cream on our treks, too. 

However, we've never come across an "Asylum" while there.  But, there's always a first time, and now that I've read this book, I'm dragging out my bug spray, hunting up some high water rubber boots, fetching a machete and striking out next time I go to Sanibel.  Surely they've hidden the Asylum if there ever was one, don't you think??
Until then...my research continues.

In which, The Dame Returns with News!!   May 1st, 2012
Having tapped into my psychic abilities and natural resources, I determined to make some calls to the wilds of the upper states in search of a way to get my interview questions in front of Ms Hepinstall.  Perhaps, if she wouldn't talk to me, she would "speak" through an inter mediator!!  She would, and she did.  And herein find the results:

Hello, Kathy Hepinstall, and welcome to A Bookish Libraria! I’m really happy you’ve agreed to allow us to get to know you and your book better. You are one of those rare breed of reclusive writers!  

I appreciate your answering these several questions.


1) First of all, please tell us a special something about what makes you "tick." When you aren’t writing, what are you doing?

I like to help rescue dogs and I think they must find it odd, the same species coming to rescue them that got them in the predicament in the first place. Right now I have a fourteen year old Blue Heeler I rescued from humans who in turn had rescued him from other humans. I think he is tired of being rescued and just wants his dinner.

2) You chose a specific genre, a place and time to write about, what made you choose it?

I like, at times, to set things in the past because then characters can be more purely themselves without a cell phone ringing or a Facebook friend request coming in.

3) Bronte or Austen? Hemingway or Hawthorne? Why?

A better question might be why am I not better read? But, that said, not a fan of Hemingway. Don’t like the hunter in the man, and don’t like the feeling of his writing. Too practical, too something. Please forgive me, lovers of Hemingway. I’m sure I have just not run across a beautiful verse he has written or a white rhino he has not shot.

4) In your opinion, what makes a book a great one?

One that captures me, so perhaps my standards are a little self-centered. That’s what I’m looking for, capture. Being transfixed by the word.

5) Which author(s) most influenced your love of books from childhood?

Used to read Encyclopedia Brown and the Time Life Series on the Old West. Also any books – mostly nonfiction – I could get my hands on about the American Indians.

6) Read any good books in the past 6 months?

When I read, it’s usually not fiction. It’s non fiction. I love any book on brain function, or increasing efficiency or being better at work or life or thinking or loving or existing. Right now I’m reading a book called Change Anything.

7) Choose 4 guests from any era for dinner. Who would they be and what would you choose for a topic of conversation?

Jesus, The Dali Lama, Edgar Cayce, and a Brazilian psychic healer named Arigo. And I would just pour the wine and let the topic go where it may.

8) Which of your characters is most like you?

All of them, because they meant well.

9) If you could cast your book for a movie, who would you choose?

 I think Zac Efron could do a fine Ambrose if you didn’t feed him for a week and kind of dragged him around in the dirt, but Iris would be more difficult to cast. It’s hard to think of a character in her mid-20’s, like Iris is, who is also that strong and complex.

10) Worst habit you have? Wasting time.

11) How much research did you do before and during writing?

Usually I write an outline and do a bit of research, then write a rough draft and do more research. I’d say writing and research overlap at times.

12) Psychologists tell us the thing we’d most like to be when we grow up, we’re ten years old, is our avocation. What did you want to be?

A fireman, or a policeman. I think I wanted excitement and so perhaps I am both a fireman and a policeman of my own novels, putting out flames and arresting troublemakers and loiterers.

LOL   Yesssss!!!
and there you have it, my fine readers!!
A wonderful insight into the very interesting Ms Kathy Hepinstall...

I just knew she'd be a worthwhile investigation, and I didn't even have to get my gardening shoes and machete out to do it!!!  ;]

My favorite comment of hers is about Hemingway.  I was the only one in my college Eng. Lit. class who didn't love him, too.  My professor thought I was a pagan, I'm sure.  I've seen his house in Key Largo. It's as sparse and dark as his writing style. I still think he got away with more than murdering wildlife.  He was a big, handsome, loud,  hard drinking man who made a great impression during those 1920's expat. days of Paris, and the young and beautiful American writers.  I think he was merely a symbol of those times, and not the greatest of those writers.  For me, F. Scott Fitzgerald will do it, every time!! :]

In summary, then, you must know by now that I would never have gone to such an extreme if I didn't think this was one of those books you must have this spring and summer.  It's a book you can't go on without having on your shelves.  The cover is wonderful, but the context is even more alluring. 

 Please go to my sidebar to see the Trailer to this book. It is so matter of fact, it will give you some insight into the literary "voice" of Iris as she walks through the horrendous experiences of an asylum where she knows the "keepers" are as sick as the "kept," and you as the reader wonder who will listen to sanity.

The surprises will take your breath away.

This is on my very favorites of 2012 list.

A 5 stars read.


PS:  TO Ms Hepinstall~  Don't be a stranger.  :]


Enter By:   Joining me on Facebook

Following me on GFC on the sidebar

Leave me your email so I can contact you if you win!!
no email=no win

*This is for a hard copy of the book and is for US participants only.  Sorry....


Sophia Rose

This book sounds really good. I'm appalled at what got a gal sent to the asylum back then. The interview was fun, thanks!

GFC: Sophia Rose


So true, Sophia. I loved this book for that aspect, as well as many other reasons. This is a great book for a feminist discussion. Thanks for your comment.


thank you for the chance to enter to win Blue Asylum!! it would be a nice change of pace for me to read a historical fiction based in the US; i seem to only find books mostly set in the UK........

congrats to Kathy!!

cyn209 at juno dot com


Isn't that the truth, Cyn! So many historical fictions are UK based. But, we do have our own crop if you look around my blog a bit! ;] I love both sides of the pond. I hope the fickle finger of fate smiles on you in this draw!!


This is a book I have to read! I want to dive into Iris Dunleavy's world. I was so captivated by this interview and learned so much about this author. I'm dying to get my hands on this fantastic read! Thanks for the chance to win. My e-mail address is alexandchrissy@yahoo.com. I am a GFC follower and 'like' you on Facebook.

Kayla Beck

Wow, what a great interview! Thank you for going to such trouble to get her answers. :-) I giggled when I read her answer about who she'd like to have dinner with. I don't think it would be too controversial at that theoretical meal, but it would definitely be interesting.

Thanks for the giveaway! (This is my GFC name.)


Dear Kayla, Coming from a librarian such as you, I'm taking my interview compliment to heart. I had to dig for this one!! LOL :]

Kayla Beck

Well, you did a wonderful job, Deb! :-D

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