A work of brilliant and innovative historical fiction, Asylum delves into the disturbing and seductive relationship between a young hysteric named Augustine and renowned nineteenth-century French neurologist J.M. Charcot. As Charcot risks his career to investigate the controversial disease of hysteria, Augustine struggles to make him acknowledge their interdependence and shared desires—until a new lover, M., drives them all to the brink of fracture.
Drawing upon the medical photography, hypnotic states, and “grand demonstrations” that accompanied Charcot’s research, Asylum traces the deterioration of the dynamic between doctor and patient as they transform from mutually entranced creators to jealous and spurned paramours, to fierce rivals, and finally to bitter enemies. Told in lyrical, feverish, and sometimes delirious prose, Nina Shope delivers a captivating narrative at the crossroads of Mary Shelley and Donna Tartt.