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The Painted Bridge

The Painted Bridge

A Novel

  • reading group guide
Spellbinding and intricate, The Painted Bridge is a tale of secrets, lost lives, and a woman seizing her own destiny: “A chilling page-turner about the muddy line between sanity and madness” (Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You).

Outside London behind a stone wall stands Lake House, a private asylum for genteel women of a delicate nature. In the winter of 1859, recently married Anna Palmer becomes its newest arrival, tricked by her husband into leaving home, incarcerated against her will, and declared hysterical and unhinged. With no doubts as to her sanity, Anna is convinced that she will be released as soon as she can tell her story. But Anna learns that liberty will not come easily. The longer she remains at Lake House, the more she realizes that—like the ethereal bridge over the asylum’s lake—nothing is as it appears. She begins to experience strange visions and memories that may lead her to the truth about her past, herself, and to freedom…or lead her so far into the recesses of her mind that she may never escape.

Set in Victorian England, as superstitions collide with a new psychological understanding, novelist Wendy Wallace “masterfully creates an atmosphere of utter claustrophobia and dread, intermingled with the ever-present horror of the reality of women’s minimal rights in the nineteenth century” (Publishers Weekly). The Painted Bridge is a tale of self-discovery, secrets, and a search for the truth in a world where the line between madness and sanity seems perilously thin.
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  • Scribner | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451660838 | 
  • July 2014
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List Price $16.00
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THE PAINTED BRIDGE

Spellbinding and intricate, THE PAINTED BRIDGE is a tale of secrets, lost lives, and a woman seizing her own destiny.

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Painted Bridge includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

Just outside London, behind a tall stone wall, lies Lake House—a private asylum for genteel women. In the winter of 1859, recently married Anna Palmer becomes its newest patient, tricked into leaving her home and incarcerated against her will. With no doubts about her sanity, she is convinced that she will be released as soon as she can tell her side of the story. However, Anna quickly learns that her freedom will not come so easily. The proprietor of Lake House needs patients in order to keep his madhouse in business, and her new husband has much to gain from her absence. But the shabby gloom and odd occupants of the asylum yield some hope: the young visiting physician, a photographer who believes his pictures can reveal the set of a patient’s mind; a longtime patient who seems, to Anna’s surprise, to be as sane as she is; and the proprietor’s bookish daughter who also yearns to leave.

Yet the longer Anna remains at Lake House, the more she realizes that nothing is as it appears. Not the asylum, the patients, her marriage, her see more

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About the Author

Wendy Wallace
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Wendy Wallace

Wendy Wallace, author of The Painted Bridge, is an award-winning freelance journalist and writer. Before she turned to fiction, she was a senior features writer for the London Times Educational Supplement for ten years and the author of a nonfiction book on life in an inner city primary school, Oranges and Lemons. Her second novel is The Sacred River. She lives in London.

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