Age Group: Adult
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Historical Fiction
Release Date: November 1, 2013
1885. Anne Stanbury - Committed to a lunatic asylum, having been deemed insane and therefore unfit to stand trial for the crime of which she is indicted. But is all as it seems?
Edgar Stanbury - the grieving husband and father who is torn between helping his confined wife recover her sanity, and seeking revenge on the woman who ruined his life.
Dr George Savage - the well respected psychiatrist, and chief medical officer of Bethlem Royal Hospital. Ultimately, he holds Anne's future wholly in his hands.
The Medea Complex tells the story of a misunderstood woman suffering from insanity in an era when mental illnesses' were all too often misdiagnosed and mistreated. A deep and riveting psychological thriller set within an historical context, packed full of twists and turns, The Medea Complex explores the nature of the human psyche: what possesses us, drives us, and how love, passion, and hope for the future can drive us to insanity.
He sighs and looks about him, before making his way over to my bed. He sits on it and puts his head in his hands.
“Yes, you may very well cast your eyes upon the ground, you despicable creature. How dare you lock a Lady in a cell, and pretend to be a doctor, in order to look upon her tongue?”
He moves to pull something out of his pocket, and I move quickly: far too fast for him to catch me.
“A-ha! You never imagined this did you, you wobbly eyed fish!” I am over the other side of the cell now, facing him, brandishing my chamber-pot. I hold it above my head. “It is full: stinking, filthy, dirty full, and I shall throw it upon you unless you give me the key.”
His puffy fish-eyes wobble a little more, practically standing on stalks out of his face.
“I can smell them,” I say. My arms are starting to ache. I am malnourished, no doubt, from tepid, thick, nasty porridge.
“Your eyes, you sea-creature.”
“Yes, your eyes. Your horrible, beady eyes. Fish-eyes. I should imagine you’d like to cut mine out and make chairs out of them. I simply refuse to put my tongue out.” I can hear my own voice, and it sounds slightly hysterical.
He starts writing on a long, slender notepad, evidently that which he had pulled out of his pocket before I retrieved my weapon.
“Can you stretch out your arms for me instead then, Anne? Perhaps wiggle your fingers a little?”
Whilst I'm holding a chamber-pot? Either he thinks I am stupid, or he is stupid.
“No. I shan’t do anything you ask of me. Is that my ransom note?”
“No, Anne. It is - "
He is a liar.
“It is, I know it is. Why else would you be writing upon a pad? I hope that the ink leaks out of your pen, all over your disgusting, cheap-smart clothes.”
He frowns, ignoring me, continuing to write, occasionally wiping an invisible piece of dust from his lap.
“Have you ever taken any morphine, Anne?”
I ignore the question.
“Give me the key.”
“No, Anne. I can’t give you the key.”
“Give it to me!” My voice rises, my throat starts to close up. “Give it to me right NOW, give it to me, give it to me! Give it to me, give it to me -"
The door opens with a bang, hitting itself upon the wall. Some yellow paint falls onto the floor in a pile. I want it.
“Doctor! What on earth is she up to now -"
I launch my chamber-pot.
Time stops for a moment.
The ‘doctor’ runs to Fat-Ruth’s aid.
“Doctor! Ohhhhhhh, oh, oh, oh, ohhhhhhhhh!!!!”
I am in hysterics. The laugh simply won’t stop and it comes with force, pushing my voice up my windpipe and out into the air in dancing, happy tones. It forces me to bend over, such is its vigour and wait; something is shining next to my foot.
Before I can grab it, hands pull my arms behind me sharply and I am thrown to the floor. My giggle stops in a huff sort of sound, and I can’t breathe right. The odour of faeces invades my nose.
“What, Doctor? What? You want me to let this little wretch hack us both to death?”
“She would not have harmed us, she is -"
“She would! Why is this lunatic not at Broadmoor?”
“Because of her father, Nurse Ruth . . ."
My father? Broadmoor? Lunatic?
The hands let go of me, and they, as well as I, are covered in my filth.
“Get the gloves, Nurse Ruth,” he says, wiping at his trousers. I laugh, now they have something on them to be wiped off.
“How about the dress?”
“Yes, fetch the dress then. Right away.”
What are they talking about? The 'doctor' looks at me forlornly from a few feet away, blocking the door.
“I am sorry to have to do this, Anne,” he says, leaving. Fat-Ruth comes back, holding a brown sack.
“Do what? What is that?”
“A restraint. For imbeciles like you,” Fat-Ruth says, and launches herself upon me with astonishing speed. I wonder if, earlier, she just watched me run for amusement.
“Let me go, let me go, let me GO!” I shout and I shout and I shout. My voice is heard by everyone but acknowledged by no-one.
Rachel Florence Roberts is a 29 year old nurse, author, and mother of one. The Medea Complex is her debut novel, and was inspired by her own struggle with postnatal depression.