BedlamBook - 2004
Europe, reeling from the French Revolution, is about explode. Conspiracies, plots and paranoia sweep across the country, landing James Tilly Matthews in Bethlem Hospital, a notorious, crumbling home for the insane. Although he is delusional--convinced that a gang of villains is controlling unsuspecting minds by means of a diabolical machine called an "Air Loom"-- Matthews appears to be incarcerated for political reasons. Margaret, his beloved wife, spends years trying to free her often lucid husband, but she is repeatedly blocked by her chief adversary, John Haslam, Bethlem's apothecary and chief administrator. Haslam, torn between his conscience and a desire to further his career through studying his famous patient, becomes another puppet in a game governed by shifting rules and shadowy players.
Bedlam creates an indelible portrait of 18th-century London, a city teetering between darkness and light, struggling to find its way to a more just and humane future. In its darkest corners, where noblemen, pickpockets, royalists and republicans jostle one another, where corruption is all in a day's work, Matthews, Margaret and Haslam must contrive their own destinies.
Enlivened with wit and intellectual daring, Bedlam is a novel that pulses with insight and compassion, in which imagination bridges the chasm between fantasy and reality, love and hate.