You know when you finish a book and you just stare at the kindle and keep clicking the doo-dad hoping for something more, just one more sentence, one more word even, just more ... please?
Then there is no more but you are still staring at the freaking page! Just breathing and staring, and thinking about everything you read swallowing back the lump in your throat, all the while knowing that it was one of the most beautiful stories you have ever read.
Well, that just happened to me!
John T Fuller has created an outstanding novella here. Set in the early 20th Century.
Dr Daniel Archer is our narrator; he is a physician at Link Hill mental institution who battles with his pious conscience and professional ethic when he develops a dubious affection for one of his young patients.
When Archer looks at his patient:
” Archer feels his heart clench, an exquisite ache of such magnitude it scares him, as witness to this rapture such as one touched by the Lord.”
As Archer goes about his job at the mental institute, battling his growing feelings and searching for justification in his methods just to be near the silent Mr White, he also unconsciously describes the day to day treatment of the patients.
This in itself is an appalling look at an era of terrible treatments and abuses against the mentally handicapped.
When Mr White begins to respond to the Doctors treatment, through music and attention we discover his talent for mimicry; to draw, dance and play any instrument.
This spurs Archer. Could Mr White feel the same way? Does he want the same thing?
“ Looking up into White’s face, the doctor feels like his heart might burst; he is recognised (special, beloved…)”
Fuller creates an effortless Victorian Gothic mood for this book. The writing is faultless and enthralling. This novella encapsulates everything you could want in a story, and then some.
Whatever moral issues I questioned about what the Doctor was doing, I knew it was right. The kindness and compassion he shows and the fierce protection over Mr White is a testament to the man he really is.
"It's not always a very pleasant read, but it's compelling and beautiful and sickening and erotic and exciting and dramatic in just the right mix to make it unforgettable. It manages to portray a really surprisingly tender love story without ever dulling down the terror of what doctors used to do to their fellow human beings in those asylums." - Richard Rider's review
John T. Fuller is a genius story teller. A must buy author for me. Thanks for the recommendation Richard;)