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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Review: The Unsuitable by Molly Pohlig @henryholt @poppycockltd

The Unsuitable 
by Molly Pohlig

Thank you Henry Holt & Co. for this free copy.

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Publish Date: April 14, 2020
Kindle Edition
288 Pages
Genres: Horror, Historical Fiction

Iseult Wince is a Victorian woman perilously close to spinsterhood whose distinctly unpleasant father is trying to marry her off. She is awkward, plain, and most pertinently, believes that her mother, who died in childbirth, lives in the scar on her neck.
Iseult’s father parades a host of unsuitable candidates before her, the majority of whom Iseult wastes no time frightening away. When at last her father finds a suitor desperate enough to take Iseult off his hands—a man whose medical treatments have turned his skin silver—a true comedy of errors ensues.
As history’s least conventional courtship progresses into talk of marriage, Iseult’s mother becomes increasingly volatile and uncontrollable, and Iseult is forced to resort to extreme, often violent, measures to keep her in check.
As the day of the wedding nears, Iseult must decide whether (and how) to set the course of her life, with increasing interference from both her mother and father, tipping her ever closer to madness, and to an inevitable, devastating final act.
My Review:

This is quite the interesting read.  I'm utterly fascinated with books dealing with mental health and how it was dealt with in history.  And as we all know, times have changed drastically in this field.  Pohlig brings us Iseult (I STILL can't figure out how to pronounce this so my mind kept pronouncing it a bit differently each time).  Iseult lost her mother before she could ever meet her but feels she lives in this scar in her neck as she hears her voice on the daily.  The run on sentences in these internal conversations are HARD to read - it takes some getting used to and to be quite honest, I didn't care for it even after I got used to it.  However, I do understand why it was portrayed this way. Madness.

Here's the thing - this is more a character read than a plot driven read.  Iseult is considered a spinster at her age and her father is trying desperately to marry her off but her "condition" doesn't bode well to make this a proper goal.  The hard part is seeing how people treated her because at this time, no one could understand a woman claiming to carry her dead mother with her inside.  We get the inside of Iseult and everything she is going through.  It's a bit of a tough read at times because of this.  

Full disclosure, despite the subject matter, this writing style is typically not the kind of book I usually like.  I usually need something more plot driven.  However, in this case, the continuous grumbling of Iseult and what she has to endure is psychologically fascinating.  And that ending, while not unexpected, still gave me pause.  What are we actually reading about here? Iseult and her mental illness? Or is her mother truly a part of her and haunting her?  I don't even think Iseult truly knows.

This book definitely won't be for everybody.  I'm so curious what Pohlig will bring us next.


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