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The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds
  

The Quickening Maze

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Shortlisted for the inaugural Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction 2010.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2009.

A fictionalised account of an asylum on the edge of Epping Forest where the poet John Clare spent some time. Tennyson visits the asylum adding that extra sense of reality but it is the story of the doctor Matthew Allen and his humane care for the patients in a time where such care was rare that makes this novel a pleasure to read.


The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. This remarkable book was inspired by the incarceration of poet John Clare in an asylum in Epping Forest around 1840. The author brilliantly captures the mood of early Victorian England where there was so much certainty and the mind could be conquered, just like the globe; a world still medieval for many but excitingly modern for others.
~ Anthony Lafferty

Synopsis

The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds

Based on real events in Epping Forest on the edge of London around 1840, The Quickening Maze centres on the first incarceration of the great nature poet John Clare. After years struggling with alcohol, critical neglect and depression, Clare finds himself in High Beach Private Asylum – an institution run on reformist principles which would later become known as occupational therapy. At the same time another poet, the young Alfred Tennyson, moves nearby and becomes entangled in the life and catastrophic schemes of the asylum's owner, the peculiar, charismatic Dr Matthew Allen.

For John Clare, a man who had grown up steeped in the freedoms and exhilarations of nature, who thought ‘the edge of the world was a day’s walk away’, a locked door is a kind of death. This intensely lyrical novel describes his vertiginous fall, through hallucinatory episodes of insanity and dissolving identity, towards his final madness.

Historically accurate, but brilliantly imagined, the closed world of High Beach and its various inmates – the doctor, his lonely daughter in love with Tennyson, the brutish staff and John Clare himself – are brought vividly to life. Outside the walls is Nature, and Clare’s paradise: the birds and animals, the gypsies living in the forest; his dream of home, of redemption, of escape. Rapturous yet precise, exquisitely written, rich in character and detail, this is a remarkable and deeply affecting book: a visionary novel which contains a world.

About the Author

Adam Foulds was born in 1974 and lives in south London. He is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia and his poetry has appeared in a number of literary magazines. His first novel, The Truth About These Strange Times, was published in 2007.

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Book Info

Publication date

7th May 2009

Author

Adam Foulds

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    recommendations

Publisher

Jonathan Cape Ltd an imprint of Vintage

Format

Hardback

Categories

Historical Fiction
All Shortlists and Winners
Literary Fiction
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites


ISBN

9780224087469

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