The Madwoman’s Coat
Publisher: Framework Press
Published: March 2021
In The Madwoman’s Coat Ian Reid consolidates his reputation for absorbing historical fiction. Reid draws imaginatively from the history of late nineteenth-century England and Western Australia, and from old Icelandic mythology, to create a fast-paced narrative that explores gender and class, love and insanity.
The novel tells the story of young Staffordshire embroiderer Lucy Malpass, an intriguing character who both conforms to and transgresses against the mores of her social world. Lucy’s extraordinary talent attracts the attention of acclaimed designer William Morris, a leading figure in the British Arts and Crafts Movement in London and a socialist activist. Reid paints a vivid picture of Morris, his eccentric family, and the artistic and political circle to which he introduces Lucy.
Equally convincing is Reid’s portrait of colonial Western Australia, where a baffling murder in the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum holds a clue to the strange trajectory of Lucy’s life.