In the early days of asylums, people who had seizures were thought to be lunatics or demon possessed. The public thought the same of those with Down’s Syndrome. Even paralyzed people were committed to asylums because the public believed paralysis was caused by humors in the brain.
I once worked as a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, and my beat covered the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, a former asylum. I was given a report from the “Board of Lunacy Commissioners” on the supposed causes of insanity of patients admitted to the institution in 1899-1900 and 1909-2010.
Among diagnoses were epilepsy, paralysis, and other amazing supposed causes of insanity. But quite a number of conditions probably did indicate mental illness.
Thinking on this, I spun a tale around a romance and two persistent attorneys who take on the cause of a doctor committed to the asylum as a patient. The doctor, in my story, had just one seizure–in a state fair arena. While involved in a riding competition, he was bucked off a horse, hit his head on a fence post, and had the seizure. Dignitaries viewing the rodeo insisted the good doctor be committed.
A Colorado rancher loves a young widow who happens to be an attorney in Boston. She’s fighting a legal case on the doctor’s behalf, and she’s working alongside an attractive young man who is also an attorney.
Can two persistent attorneys take on the asylum in the days when mental illness and demon possession were greatly feared and not well understood? And who will Valerie choose to marry?
When Ada Brownell sat down to write The Peach Blossom Rancher (the sequel to The Lady Fugitive and book two in The Peaches and Dreams series) she drew from her experience growing up in Colorado’s peach country near Grand Junction, picking peaches and working in a packing shed. In addition, she uses some of what she learned as a journalist on her beat covering a mental hospital for The Pueblo Chieftain.
Ada Brownell blogs and writes with Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement. She is the author of six other books, and more than 350 stories and articles in Christian publications. She now lives in Missouri, a beautiful state except for tornadoes and chiggers.