Chance, Megan. An Inconvenient Wife. Through the experiences of Lucy Carlton and her problems with hysteria (remember Freud?), we get a look into the cultural and social strictures of New York society in the 1880's, the role of women, and some of the medical procedures of the time. (The beginning is a little slow, but do stick around!)
Lucy married for love, but has a bit of internal conflict because her domineering father encouraged her courtship with William Carlton; another problem in their marriage involves sexual expectations. The marriage is not entirely happy for either Lucy or William, for many reasons.
Lucy's problems are diagnosed as female hysteria, and after treatments from several doctors (who recommend everything from surgery to a mental institution), she begins treatments with Dr. Victor Seth, a neurologist.
At this point, things get a little strange as Dr. Seth uses "electric therapy" (ahem!) and hypnosis in an attempt to cure Lucy. As her treatments continue, Dr. Seth becomes fascinated with his patient, and through the use of implanted suggestion, begins using Lucy as a means of furthering his research.
The problem for Lucy and her husband is that the cure may be worse than the disease. Twists and turns, manipulation, and scandal all result from Lucy's treatment. She is becoming more of the woman she was intended to be, but how much of her personality is under the control of the good doctor?
You can't help but think a little of Edith Wharton and Henry James (actually, his brother William James is mentioned in the novel), but this novel is definitely written by a 21st century author who brings not only knowledge of the time period, but a modern sensibility the narrative.
Intriguing, disconcerting, and thought-provoking, the novel follows Lucy on her compelling and surprising journey of identity; a journey that uncovers secrets and leads to unexpected consequences.
I don't want to reveal too much!
Another review - by Katherine (A Girl Walks into a Bookstore)
Fiction. Historical. 2004. 416 pages.