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Extended Audio Sample Blue Asylum Audiobook, by Kathy Hepinstall Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,643 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kathy Hepinstall Narrator: Kate Forbes Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2012 ISBN: 9781464048470
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Amid the mayhem of the Civil War, Virginia plantation wife Iris Dunleavy is put on trial and convicted of madness. It is the only reasonable explanation the court can see for her willful behavior, so she is sent away to Sanibel Asylum to be restored to a good, compliant woman. Iris knows, though, that her husband is the true criminal; she is no lunatic, only guilty of disagreeing with him on notions of justice, cruelty, and property.

On this remote Florida island, cut off by swamps and seas and military blockades, Iris meets a wonderful collection of residents—some seemingly sane, some wrongly convinced they are crazy, some charmingly odd, some dangerously unstable. Which of these is Ambrose Weller, the war-haunted Confederate soldier whose memories terrorize him into wild fits that can only be calmed by the color blue … but whose gentleness and dark eyes beckon to Iris.

The institution calls itself modern, but Iris is skeptical of its methods, particularly the dreaded “water treatment.” She must escape, but she has found new hope and love with Ambrose. Can she take him with her? If they make it out, will the war have left anything for them to make a life from back home?

Blue Asylum is a vibrant, beautifully-imagined, absorbing story of the lines we all cross between sanity and madness. It is also the tale of a spirited woman, a wounded soldier, their impossible love, and the undeniable call of freedom.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Blue Asylum casts a spell that keeps the reader turning pages as if in a trance. The horrors of the Civil War are made real and specific in this story of a wounded soldier and a persecuted wife who find love and hope on an isolated island in the Deep South. Kathy Hepinstall is a master storyteller in full command of her craft.”

    Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, New York Times bestselling author

  • Blue Asylum is a gripping story of love and madness in the midst of the Civil War—I couldn’t put it down!”

    Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author

  • “With Blue Asylum, Kathy Hepinstall presents the reader with the rare and delicious quandary of whether to race through and find out what happens to her characters or to linger over her vivid, beautifully crafted sentences. For me, the only resolution was to read it twice.”

    Hillary Jordan, New York Times bestselling author 

  • “Hepinstall exquisitely illustrates the fate of societal outsiders in this richly compelling Civil War–era tale…Deftly interweaving past and present, Hepinstall sets the struggles of her characters against the rigidity of a traditional Southern society and the brutality of war in an absorbing story that explores both the rewards and perils of love, pride, and sanity itself.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “A deep sense of the natural world, often-lyrical prose, and some touches of southern gothic help carry along this tale of obsession and redemption.”

    Booklist

  • “Features excellent pacing and strong character development that animate not only the inmates at the Sanibel Asylum but the characters from the preasylum lives of Iris and Ambrose. A first-rate choice for fans of intelligent historical romances.”

    Library Journal

  • “Given rich psychological dimensions, each character strives to negotiate the lines balancing desire and control, power and compassion…A fine novel embroidered with rich imagery.”

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liz | 2/20/2014

    " It starts a little slow, but then you're hooked. Civil War era, plantation owner thinks he's found a pretty wife. Iris abhors slavery -- verdict, she's crazy, sent to a tropical insane asylum on a island off the coast of Florida. She meets a cast of characters including the doctor(unbending in his view of his lunatics) his son, the moral compass, and of course Ambrose who she thinks she can save. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 2/16/2014

    " I thought this might be a "fluff" story but it surprised me by being thoughtful and moving. It's the story of a civil war wife who is declared insane by her controlling husband and his crony judge and who is sent to an island asylum to be 'cured' of her independent and willful ways. There she falls in love with a civil war veteran who carries mental wounds that run deep. Together the two find true love but will it be enough? Read it and find out! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Patricia | 1/31/2014

    " Very good book. I'm going to try another of this author's books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara | 1/25/2014

    " I inhaled this book in two nights, and loved everything about it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 1/11/2014

    " This was a little different book than I usually read. I liked how Kathy Hepinstall writes. She really makes you feel you are in the moment. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Erin M | 12/17/2013

    " Meh. This book was disappointing, and I had high hopes because of the reviews of two great authors. I found it melodramatic and hard to get into. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pam Priddy | 12/17/2013

    " Absolutely one of the best books I've ever read! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Adina Wolfe | 12/15/2013

    " Overall this was a quick read that kept me interested throughout the course of the book; however at points it got a little wordy and slightly predictable. Definitely worth the library trip but probably not worth the actual purchase. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennie | 12/14/2013

    " What a sweetly sad novel. The mentally broken, along with one headstrong protagonist, play on an island stage in this book. Sorrow bound up and set against the backdrop of the Civil War, slavery, oppression, and loneliness make for a compelling read. The writing is beautiful. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rj | 12/11/2013

    " would have made a great beach read especially if on sanibel "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Beachi | 11/24/2013

    " Beautifully written and crafted but definitely a somber, somewhat depressing book. It just had sort of a gloom over it and even what was supposed to be a happy interlude foreshadowed more tragedy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kimberly | 11/19/2013

    " I really really enjoyed this book! The story was intriguing and I was caught up in all the different stories simultaneously happening. Excellent book. Loses a star because the ending was just a little too rushed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alywishes | 10/11/2013

    " Thoroughly engaging. Loved it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cindy | 9/27/2013

    " A gentle quick read about a disturbing story of who is sane and who is not and a look back at the insanity of the Civil War. This book is one I am very glad to have read! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deb | 9/21/2013

    " There are storytellers and then there are Storytellers. Hepinstall weaves a beautiful wicked dream with this book. I think it's the best of all her offerings, though I loved The House of Gentle Men. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tricia Semple | 5/30/2013

    " Love this book. Now reading more by this author. Caught me up in the story right away and kept me glued to the book the entire time! Excellent! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susie James | 5/26/2013

    " This was a beautifully expressed novel. I can't say I wanted it to end as it did, but couldn't fault it. Well worth the waiting to read after having read one other novel by Hepinstall, "Absence of Nectar." She writes as few do these days, and I mean so beautifully, with meaning. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kassie | 5/17/2013

    " Lyrical, poetic, infuriating, melancholy and quite quite lovely. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 korey | 3/26/2013

    " Awesome read. The story is like One Flew Over the Cookoos Nest except it's set during the Civil War. It's also a bit darker than the movie, but same premise with lots of great characters. I love the authors prose and descriptions of time and place. I recommend this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lynne Mohler-Musgrave | 3/26/2013

    " Interesting look @ the treatment of women in the South during the Civil War~disturbing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Shay (Shannon) | 3/25/2013

    " Amazing! This is one of those stories that will stick with me for a very long time! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan | 3/22/2013

    " absorbing story, interesting historical fiction. beautiful yet frustrating and depressing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pam | 12/18/2012

    " Interesting perspective of mental illness, particularly PTSD, during the civil war. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nikki | 7/24/2012

    " Very enjoyable, quick read. I've read 2 other books by Hepinstall, which were equally good. I'd recommend! "

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About the Author

Kathy Hepinstall grew up in Spring, Texas, near the Louisiana border. She is the author of The House of Gentle Men, The Absence of Nectar, and Blue Asylum, among others.

About the Narrator

Kate Forbes is a professionally trained actress who has appeared on Broadway, in regional theaters, and with a renowned touring company. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, where she was active in theater, she completed an MFA at New York University School of the Arts. With this training, she launched into a successful acting career.