Guests on Earth

Guests on Earth

A Novel

eBook - 2013
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"Evalina Toussaint, orphaned child of an exotic dancer in New Orleans, is just thirteen when she is admitted to Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. The year is 1936, and the mental hospital is under the direction of the celebrated psychiatrist Dr. Robert S. Carroll, whose innovative treatment for nervous disorders and addictions is based upon fresh air, diet, exercise, gardening, art, dance, music, theater, and therapies of the day such as rest cures, freeze wraps, and insulin shock. Talented Evalina is soon taken under the wing of the doctor's wife, a famous concert pianist, and eventually becomes the accompanist for all musical programs at the hospital, including the many dances and theatricals choreographed by longtime patient Zelda Fitzgerald. Evalina's role gives her privileged access to the lives and secrets of other patients and staff swept into a cascading series of events leading up to the tragic fire of 1948 that killed nine women in a locked ward on the top floor. She offers a solution for the still-unsolved mystery of that fire, as well as her own ideas about the very thin line between sanity and insanity; her opinion of the psychiatric treatment of women and girls who failed to fit into prevailing male ideals; and her insights into the resonance between art and madness."--Dust jacket flap.
Publisher: Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books Of Chapel Hill, 2013.
Edition: First Edition.
ISBN: 9781616203467
Characteristics: 1 online resource.
Subjects: Historical fiction.
Southern writing.
Psychiatric hospitals -- Fiction.
Pianists -- Fiction.
Teenage girls -- Fiction.
Orphans -- Fiction.
Electronic books.
Psychological fiction.


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LibrarySquare Feb 13, 2016

" The insane are always mere guests on earth, eternal strangers carrying around broken decalogues that they cannot read." F. Scott Fitzgerald in a letter to his daughter, Scottie, c. December 15, 1940

Aug 30, 2015

If you are looking to learn more about F' Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, you won't, however, this is a really good book and describes the mental health treatments in the 1930' and 40's and has an interesting plot. I would rate it PG-13 for mild profanity and some sex.

Apr 12, 2015

Aside from more than one typo on character's names, this book didn't seem to have a sense of purpose until the last less than hundred pages. As often happens, the narrator was the least interesting person; she seemed to skim through life without much consequence.

Chapel_Hill_KenMc Dec 22, 2014

This historical novel set in a psychiatric hospital in the mountains of North Carolina doesn't quite gel as a dramatic narrative. But it does provide some interesting history and glimpses of the lives of those suffering from mental illness before effective treatments were available.

lib_apart Dec 08, 2014

An inventive and whistful take on historical fiction, set in a mental institution in North Carolina. Upon learning that Bach had 20 children, Evalina muses that being an orphan must be better. This book is kind of like that statement, comforting trivia that ultimately doesn't take the characters or the reader anywhere meaningful. However, it is an enjoyable read and kudos for the Zelda Fitzgerald cameo.

Jane60201 Aug 04, 2014

A just OK historical fiction. Pretty light considering the subject.

CSil Jun 22, 2014

good historical fiction. liked learning about zelda fitzgerald and her life in the mental institution she was in and out of much of her life. a nice counterpoint to "the paris wife" which was just terrific.

Dec 02, 2013

readable and engaging but carelessly written: full of anachronisms and characters who can't spell their names the same way two pages running. i'm a big fan of Lee Smith and have to think she just phoned this one in.


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