Book Review

Book Review – The Medea Complex

the medea complexThe Medea Complex by Rachel Florence Roberts


The year is 1885, and the Lady Anne has been incarcerated in the Bethlem Hospital in London. Why is she there? Will she be released? Is she really suffering from post-natal mania? And what is the secret her husband is so desperate to keep hidden? 

My overall impression?

Overall, this was total rubbish. In my humble opinion. Let me  tell you why.

There were so many mistakes in this any entertainment or diversion I got from the story was totally ruined. You may well ask why I read the thing if it was so poor, but it was recommended to me by a fellow student who is studying the same OU course as me because it featured healthcare for the insane in the 19th Century. Shall I list some of the mistakes for you?

Each chapter is told from a different point of view (which is a great way to tell the story, if a little tedious when you forget which doctor it’s referring to and the fact that the chapters themselves were very short), and at the head of each chapter is given a date as part of its title. The story starts in October 1885 when we are introduced to Anne. She is imprisoned for 6 months and is released in April 1886. On the night that she arrives home she has a violent row with her husband and then disappears. As the POV changes to her husband the date is now given as being March 1886. I assume that it should be May, not March but it’s this kind of editorial oversight that really annoys me. (I won’t even mention the fact that the punctuation such as speech marks weren’t spaced properly…)

Another example is basic grammar and spelling: “Doctor, you should of told me…” Of? OF?? The whole thing is littered with examples like this and it drove me crackers.

Another one for you is that measurements were all given in metric, not imperial as they should have been for the period. Certain words and phrases that would not have been used at the time were liberally sprinkled throughout this tosh and it is just wrong.

The plot itself didn’t make sense – Anne had a baby and hid him, then obtained another one in order to kill him so that she could lie to her husband just because she knew her fortune would pass to him if she had a son so she pretended to be insane so she would be admitted to Bedlam to escape from him…. Having spent the past couple of evenings wading through this crap I have to ask myself one question – WHY??

None of the story made sense and the way it was told was just poor, poor, poor. It obviously hadn’t been proofread or edited in any way before it was published and it portrayed Bedlam in the accepted “loony bin” kind of way that people traditionally think of it. I had got so far in with the story by the time the discrepancies and inaccuracies became a real issue for me, I had to carry on til the end just so I could find out whether it would eventually work out and make sense or not.

It didn’t.

The whole thing was neither one thing nor another – it wasn’t a historically accurate story, nor was it a romance. It wasn’t a murder mystery, nor was it a family saga type plot. It gave no insight into medical or health care in that period (which is all I read it for), and it didn’t even have a decent twist at the end which could have excused all the inaccuracies. The title of “Medea” wasn’t even explored and unless you are an expert in Greek mythology and know that Medea was the wife of Jason (of the Argonauts fame) and was betrayed by him by divorcing her (which clearly didn’t happen in this book. If anyone betrayed anyone else it was the wife who betrayed the husband not the other way round) – so disappointing.

All in all, this is a bad book.

Who are the main characters?

Lady Anne, her husband Edgar, her father Lord Damsbridge, Doctor Savage and her lady in waiting Beatrix. All of these characters told the story from their point of view at some point through this book.

Where is it set?

19th Century London, specifically the Royal Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam)

Will I read the next in the series?

Absolutely not!!

Would I recommend it to my friends?

Not unless it was seriously overhauled and re-edited first. The premise is a good one, but the execution is poor. I would have loved this book to have been so much better than this because I think the framework and the idea of the plot do have potential. I liked the idea that there was some sort of secret behind the marriage of a commoner and the daughter of a Lord, and I liked it that there was scope to explore the fact that women in those days were treated as fragile imbeciles who should be protected from themselves. I am so disappointed that it failed to achieve any of the promises the blurb gave and I would recommend my reader friends to stay well clear!!


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