By Patrick McGrath,

Book cover of Asylum

Book description

A story of self-obsession narrated by the point of view of a psychiatrist, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

As a psychiatrist in a top-security mental hospital in the 1950s, Peter Cleave has made a study of what he calls 'the catastrophic love affair characterized by sexual…

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Why read it?

1 author picked Asylum as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This book stayed with me long after I made it my Summer read that year during a blisteringly hot July. It details a darkly destructive love affair between Stella, the wife of a man running an asylum, and Edgar, a murderer who is incarcerated there. McGrath’s vivid descriptions of the asylum and its grounds reframe the gothic tradition through an unflinching, contemporary lens. The doomed obsession of the novel’s star cross’d lovers reminds us that our own hearts can become institutionalised if we do not balance passion with compromise.

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