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Publisher's Summary

From our most celebrated writer of the psychological thriller comes this nerve-wracking yet eerily beautiful work of erotic obsession and madness. In the summer of 1959, Stella Raphael joins her psychiatrist husband, Max, at his new posting: a maximum-security hospital for the criminally insane. Beautiful and headstrong, Stella soon falls under the spell of Edgar Stark, a brilliant and magnetic sculptor who has been confined to the hospital for murdering his wife in a psychotic rage. But Stella's knowledge of Edgar's crime is no hindrance to the volcanic attraction that ensues - a passion that will consume Stella's sanity and destroy her and the lives of those around her.
©1999 Patrick McGrath (P)2008 BBC Audio
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Critic Reviews

"The book is hypnotizing, with its own strange but darkly convincing pace and style; and the way in which nature and climate are woven into the fabric of the bizarre couple's strange love is masterly." ( Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Mebythesea on 10-07-08

So enjoyed this book!

I just finished listening to Asylum yesterday and have to share that I'm so glad I decided to purchase it. I really had no idea if I'd like it, as I am usually not drawn to a book such as this but I thought I'd give it a try. First of all...I must say that I could listen to this narrator, Sir Ian MacKellen, read the phone book from beginning to end! His voice is simply beautiful and the expression he uses...I can still hear certain sentences end in a whisper almost...just an amazing voice and ability to tell the story! I couldn't wait to start listening again. I only wish I could find more books narrated by this man~

I really enjoyed the story as well. I still am not positive about the ending...I need to listen to the last chapter again, as there is something I think I'm missing. Oh I think I'll just listen to the whole book once more... I would purchase any book written by Patrick McGrath after having listened to this novel....especially if it was narrated by Ian McKellen! I am also unable to find any other books written by this author on the Audible site. Hopefully in the near future they will share some more of his books with us. It's money well spent!

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14 of 14 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Holly Helscher on 12-12-08

Descent into Madness

The beautiful Stella falls passionately in love with Edgar while he is a patient in a mental hospital. The plot that ensues is both frightening and fascinating. The intimacy with which McGrath portrays Stella, her psychological environment, and the surroundings in which she travails is nothing short of brilliant. With each page the reader is drawn into Stella's world with amazing accuracy. Her lover, Edgar Stark, is aptly named because the deeper Stella walks into his world, the more stark her world becomes. Stella's husband, Max, is not the noble man he believes himself to be, yet the reader keeps hoping he will become that. Max is as psychologically damaged as Edgar, but Max's actions are seen as more civilized since they are so well covered. But Max can be perceived as far more dangerous and it could be argued that it is Max who ultimately destroys Stella. Peter, the pseudo-hero is so full of hubris that he realizes too late Stella's true condition and becomes the last victim of Stella's tragic affair. From beginning to end we watch Stella walk the knife edge of sanity until, in the end, she chooses to fall. The book stays with you long after the last word is uttered. It is read well. I highly recommend the novel.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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