Monday, June 26, 2017


Finished Su 6/25/17 The June, 2017 selection for the Contemporary Book Club

Ella Fay

John Mulligan

Dan Riley

Clem Church

Dr. Charles Fuller

Set in Northwestern England near Leeds. Yorkshire.

In broad strokes, this is a doomed love story between two inmates, Ella Fay and John Mulligan, in the Sharston Asylum in 1911.

Dr. Charles Fuller is the doctor who administers their treatment. He is deeply involved in the Eugenics Movement- deeply conflicted and probably a closeted gay.

At first he believes in Music Therapy, but gives up on this in favor of Eugenic principles.

Dan Riley is a strong, romantic character. An ex-sailor and he escapes when he decides that it's time for him to leave. Good friend to John Milligan.

Clem Church is a university student committed by her family. She loves to read, but Dr. Fuller decides that she is being harmed by 'expanding her mind'. She is able to read the letters between Ella and John. Ella is illiterate.

The novel begins with the end scene. Twenty years after John and Ella's release (John escapes, Ella is let go), their daughter reconnects with her father, John. He learns that Ella had died several years earlier but she never stopped hoping that she would reunite with the love of her life. And, John lets his daughter know that he always has been looking for his lost love, Ella.

The story is loosely based on the author's great great grandfather.

The actual asylum was called the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum, then West Riding Mental Hospital, then High Royds Hospital. Finally closing in 2003. The location is West Riding, Yorkshire near the village of Menston.

A relatively easy read and I liked the story. I especially liked the real story of the Eugenics Movement that was popular at the time. Uncle Adolph took this idea and ran with it!

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