Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Books 42 & 43 of 2016: The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace & Merry Men by Robert Louis Stevenson

When I visit my Nan in Wales, she always makes a point of making sure I'm well set for reading material and The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace was one that she passed on to me when I went down last year.

It is set during the Victorian era and features a woman named Anna who has been sent away by her husband to an institution. At first it seems as though she was sent there with just cause, but gradually Anna's story comes out which makes you wonder if perhaps her husband's motives might have been ever so slightly sinister. Alongside this is the story of a young doctor who is exploring the possibility of using photography to help diagnose the women he treats.

I felt like I had a bit of a slow start to this one. I guess part of that was because in the beginning I wasn't sure what to expect from it and even when I started I didn't know what sort of a story it was going to be. As I progressed through the book and I learned more about Anna and how she came to be where she was, I couldn't help but get hooked and really drawn in.

It was written in such a way that my opinion of Anna changed as I read. At the start of the book I believed that there was something wrong with Anna because she didn't seem to be doing much to prove her sanity, but gradually I came to realise that there was nothing wrong with her and that there were bigger factors at play in the story.

There's also the subplot featuring the family who run the institution she has been sent away to, and the realisation that they're all kind of in need of help themselves. I found their story almost as interesting as Anna's, particularly trying to figure out what Catherine was going through.

At the end of this book is a preview of the next book, however this one follows Louisa and Harriet; Anna's sister and niece. I love it when you get books which share characters, however this one is set many years after the events of Anna's story. I wonder if Anna will crop up in that one.

I followed this up with a collection of Robert Louis Stevenson stories on the Kindle, Merry Men.

I was already familiar with one of the stories in this collection, Olalla, which I have in the Penguin Little Black Classics edition. I think that I enjoyed it a little more for the second reading though.

This collection had a very 'Scottish' feel to it, particularly 'The Merry Men' and 'Thrawn Janet'. 'The Merry Men' was set on a Scottish island so I especially enjoyed the references to island life in that one. The latter was written in Scots dialect; sometimes I think in Scots dialect (even though when I speak there is no hiding my Englishness), so I didn't have any trouble understanding the story. It was pretty creepy.

'The Treasure of Franchard' seemed to go on for a really long time, but I did enjoy the ending. I think I appreciated it more when I finished it than I did when I was reading it because I liked the way that it ended up developing.

I do have to admit that I'm a bit of a Stevenson fan so I doubt that this will be the last book I read by him.


  1. I have been re-reading some classics, and want to re-read Poe. I have a soft spot for the tormented, sensitive people. I hope you have recovered from the A-Z. You did really well. Hugs.

    1. Thank you. I feel like I'm more or less back into the swing of things now.

      I've read one book by Edgar Allan Poe but I need to read some more. Right now I'm reading one of Andrew Lang's Fairy Tale collections which is a fun read. :-)

  2. The Painted Bridge sounds like an interesting story. I love stories based in the Victorian era, plus the potential creepiness of an institution setting sounds like a bonus. ;)


Let me know what you think. :-)