It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Matilda Windsor is Coming Home by Anne Goodwin.
About the Author
Anne Goodwin grew up in the non-touristy part of Cumbria, where this novel is set. When she went to university ninety miles away, no-one could understand her accent. After nine years of studying, her first post on qualifying as a clinical psychologist was in a long-stay psychiatric hospital in the process of closing.
Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, about a woman who has kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, about a man who keeps a woman captive in his cellar, was published in 2017. Her short story collection, Becoming Someone, on the theme of identity, was published in November 2018. Subscribers to her newsletter can download a free e-book of prize-winning short stories.
About the book
In the dying days of the old asylums, three paths intersect. Henry was only a boy when he waved goodbye to his glamorous grown-up sister; approaching sixty, his life is still on hold as he awaits her return. As a high-society hostess renowned for her recitals, Matty’s burden weighs heavily upon her, but she bears it with fortitude and grace.
Janice, a young social worker, wants to set the world to rights, but she needs to tackle challenges closer to home. A brother and sister separated by decades of deceit. Will truth prevail over bigotry, or will the buried secret keep family apart?
In this, her third novel, Anne Goodwin has drawn on the language and landscapes of her native Cumbria and on the culture of long-stay psychiatric hospitals where she began her clinical psychology career. Find out more on Matilda Windsor’s webpage
Matilda is a grande dame of drama, an woman with connections and also one who has lived for many decades behind the closed doors of a facility for the mentally ill. A small number of them are long-term residents., which means they fall to the side of the facility they live.
Henry is a man who lives in the past and wants to find the sister who disappeared when he was a young child. He doesn’t understand why she didn’t keep her promise to come back to him. Others in his small orbit tell him to get on with his own life and forget all about the woman who never returned.
This is tragic, perhaps more so because it’s fiction with root in facts and reality. Although the story of Matilda is set in the early 20th century, what she experiences is a crime that has been committed against women and girls for many centuries.
Lack of understanding at the biological functions of the female body and the possibly ensuing psychological and physical medical conditions, would result in them being deemed mentally unstable and retired to a hospital or lunatic asylum. If you wanted rid of your pesky wife then having them declared insane and locked away was a frequent solution. Any person of either gender who didn’t conform to the norm or was classed as what we would now term as having additional needs would suffer similar fates. The patriarchal society used the powerlessness of the opposite gender to commit legal crimes against them.
Imagine spending half a century locked away for essentially being a victim and speaking your truth. In a place that eventually turns you into the unstable liability everyone says you are. Imagine being forgotten in an uncaring system with loopholes bigger than Swiss cheese.
It’s an intricately drawn picture of a tragic family story. A series of mishaps shows the vast nature of surroundings, despite the fact it also speaks to the six degrees of separation that exists between us all. From what I can gather this might just be the start of Miss Windsor’s story. I’m not sure how I feel about that, because this is an excellent standalone read, and you can’t spoil the integrity or experience of that, so a sequel will be interesting.