I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
A White Room is a novel set in the 1900’s and tells the story of Emeline Evans, a young lady who wanted to study to become a nurse, something she became interested in when she did volunteer work at an infirmary while she was at college. Upon her father’s death, her family is left destitute and remembering the dying wish she granted her father, she is to take care of the family. The only way she knows how to do this is to marry the son of a family friend, John Dorr, and because of that sacrifices must be made, one of which is her wish to study nursing.
Emeline’s husband is a lawyer and shortly after their marriage they move to Labellum where John is to start working. They move into an old gothic house – dark and mysterious, which didn’t please Emeline one bit. She didn’t like the dark corridors, the stairs and even the furniture and John didn’t want her to redecorate. As much as Emeline wanted to create an affectionate relationship between her and her husband, John was indifferent towards her and the society ladies she had to socialize with were not nice to her. Emeline felt lonely in that old house and became depressed, to a point where the house and isolation drew her into madness. She starts to hallucinate characters in the house that wasn’t there, but only existed in her mind. She was diagnosed with hysteria by the town doctor, but in all truth it was mostly depression.
After she helped her housemaid, Lottie, give birth she decided to help poor people with minor health issues who couldn’t afford healthcare by a physician. Practicing medicine without a license was illegal and with Emeline’s husband being the one who prosecutes illegal abortionists and nurses, she was taking a big risk. In this time, going against your husband was almost unheard of, but Emeline did it because it helped her escape and kept her sane.
Reading up on this book and even some reviews on goodreads I was a little scared to read this book, because it was deemed “scary”. Although I like some gothic novels I am not a good candidate for scary novels, but to my surprise, I didn’t find this scary AT ALL. I really enjoyed reading A White Room. There is more to the story than just Emeline’s depression and how she found a way out of it, growing into the person she became at the end of the novel – strong, brave and loyal. She was my favourite character in the book and I totally cheered her on when she put those high society women in their place. Go Emeline!
Should you read this book? I would recommend that you do.