Rosemary Poole-Carter’s novel, Women of Magdalene, was a moving read for me for many reasons. First of all, I read everything I can that touches on the Civil War, and though this novel’s setting is after the War, the War has deeply affected the novel’s characters. The writing is rich in allusions. The author reveals extensive research, not only into matters that concern the war, but research of a neglected part of Louisiana history and the life of its residents in a post-war setting. The novel also moved me because of the subtle and beautiful way its lines touched the life-issues of family, love, women’s rights, medical practice, including especially our treatment and view of “the insane.”
If I were asked to express what the possible themes/messages of this fine novel might be, I would suggest these:
1) Robert, the protagonist, has been as scarred internally by the war, as scarred and maimed as the hundreds he feels he maimed as a physician. He is a tormented soul who finally finds redemption and peace when he finds something and someone worth dying for. The story is told masterfully from his point of view.
2) This is a story about our need and our search for healing through true love. Robert and Effie’s love is a pure one, so unlike the lust or power-driven relationships about them. When one discovers that kind of love, then like Robert he or she can say, ” I will ask for nothing more.”
3) This is a story about madness, about the madness in each of us, about how close to the edge of madness we all are. The story is also about masked madness, the hidden insanity of those who have no conscience, those who judge, define, use and control those deemed to be mentally incompetent, especially women.
To learn more of Rosemary Poole-Carter and her wonderful fiction, go to http://www.poole-carter.info/