The Quickening Maze
By Adam Foulds
Who better than a poet to write a novel that deals with madness, creativity, and love?
Adam Foulds brings a vividness of both diction and imagination to this story of Victorian nature poet John Clare and his time spent in an asylum which becomes ever more horrific as its blithe entrepreneurial proprietor, the essence of tenuous respectability, gives less attention to his patients as he devotes more energy to his patents.
Throw in the presence of Alfred Lord Tennyson, a tempestuous daughter of the house, a woman suffering/exalting in religious ecstasy, and add Foulds’ flexible, incandescent writing, sympathy, and erudition, and you have a short, compelling descent into the mindset of a group of Victorians who represent the questions of their (and our) age: what do we learn and preserve from the past? How do we navigate the present? Where does the future lead? Reminiscent of Dickens, Hardy, Byron, Austen, and Collins, but seen through a decidedly 12st century prism, The Quickening Maze is a mesmerizing, rewarding, and yes, sometimes bewildering journey to the heart of self-consciousness.