Diana K. Perkins
Shetucket Hollow Press (2018)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (10/18)
In 1888 twins Felicity Louise White and Millicent Submit White were as different as night and day. Even within all the six siblings, one could tell the other children were favored, and Millie appeared to be the “Cinderella” of the family. Felicity, from birth was quite sickly and wasn’t able to help complete chores in her family’s inn. It was during this time that Felicity did the unspeakable and ended up in the Norwich State Hospital for the Insane.
“Last on A Match” by author Diana K. Perkins is an amazing, incredible story of how being different can land one in an insane asylum regardless if they were crazy or not. In 1901 homosexuals could be committed to an asylum and this is where readers will find Felicity White.
Having worked in a state school and hospital during the late 60’s I found the author’s vivid description of the living environment, the treatment and the reasons for placement to be exceptionally right on target. Perkins’s writing allows readers to become Felicity living her life as she did. Given the author’s in-depth research regarding laws on institutionalization during the 1900s and her intimate knowledge of eastern Connecticut, I found the reading to be exceptional, captivating and shocking.
During the time Felicity was committed she learned a couple of valuable skills: to do as they say and to become a talented seamstress. Even though most medical staff seemed to care about the welfare of the patients, there were many experimental treatments given which caused more harm than good. I will say that Nurse Bliss although somewhat stereotypical as the bad guy, made me crazy with my emotions. Gosh forbid someone, especially those who are locked up be treated like a human being.
“Last on A Match” is a complex read as one follows Felicity her in and out life in an asylum only to return to the real world and be committed again. At the end of the book, the author provides some of the factual buildings, and historical information utilized in her book.
This is the sixth book in the Shetucket River Mill Town series by Diana K. Perkins, and I will be reading them all. It’s rare that an author can keep me so captivated that I want to read the rest of a series right away. I highly recommend “Last on a Match” to all who like to find relatable characters, a little bit of history and a fascinating read.