The Female of the Species - last December. I really wanted to read that, but the NLB doesn't have the eBook so I decided to read this title instead.
A Madness So Discreet starts when Grace (who's the daughter of a senator) gets sent to an asylum because she's pregnant. While there, she gets treated so cruelly that she eventually loses the baby and gets sent to solitary confinement. That, however, proves to be a good thing because she meets Dr. Thornfellow, who gets her out and makes her his protege. She lives in a way kinder asylum while actually making friends and being useful.
And then comes a series of murders she and the doctor can't solve and a return of the person who got her in the asylum.
The most horrific part of the book is probably how easily women were committed to asylums. Mostly, they just need to anger or be inconvenient to one man, who can then use the slightest reason to imprison them for goodness knows how long. By comparison, the murders weren't so frightening.
Oh and very surprisingly, this book didn't have any romance (even though Grace had suitors/people who liked her). And even more surprisingly, I was hoping for Grace and Dr. Thornfellow to end up together. They just seemed like such a good team! That didn't happen but I did like how most of the relationships in the book were written.
The ending was... a little grey but poetic. Grace isn't a total Saint, but after what she went through, I can understand why she'd use underhand methods to get what she wants.
My only complaint is that the pacing wasn't super even and the book lagged a bit between the asylum section and the mystery section. But the latter half of the book was fine.
But on the whole, I thought it was a good read and I would recommend it to people looking for a historical mystery with an unconventional setting. Plus, this made me more eager to get a chance to read The Female of the Species - gotta look for it when I finally go back to Singapore.