Monday 10 August 2020

Book Review: Inside the Beautiful Inside by Emily Bullock

Inside the Beautiful Inside is based on the astonishing true story of James Norris, an American marine who ended up chained to a metal stake in Bethlem Hospital (Bedlam) for fourteen years at the turn of the nineteenth century.

The conditions of Norris’s diminished life are grim and harrowing, yet although Bedlam steals his liberty, nobody can purloin his thoughts, dreams and memories. We are taken on a journey inside the wave of his madness, travelling on the high seas, experiencing his joys as well as his tragedies. We hear the stories of his family and friends, of the commission he didn’t take, of the one true love of his life, a shy prostitute named Ruth who betrayed him with Fletcher Christian. I found myself caring deeply for Norris, rooting for him from the very start, reading with my heart in my mouth, desperately hoping for his release even though I already knew how many years he would be chained up.

Inside the Beautiful Inside explores themes of sanity and rebellion, freedom and love, captivity and compassion in gorgeous lyrical prose. Emily Bullock is a wonderful writer, and in this superbly crafted novel she doesn’t waste a single word as she hurls us headlong through a swirling maze of madness that leads us to the very heart of James Norris.         

Published 24h September by Everything With Words Read more here

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