Where Madness Lies by Sylvia True wins the Rubery Book award for Fiction

11/08/22 | By Gavin Lee Davies, Mr
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Rubery award

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Where Madness Lies by Sylvia True (TOP HAT BOOKS) wins the Rubery Book award for Fiction

Rubery award

The Rubery Prize is a prestigious international book award seeking the best books by indie writers, self-published authors and books published by independent presses, judged by reputable judges. Through their reputation for finding quality and outstanding books, they aim to bring recognition to the works that win and heighten an author's profile.

The Rubery Prize is a well-established name in the publishing world.

Where Madness Lies is also the recipient of the gold award for historical fiction by Foreword reviews

The Madness lies not with those who have a mental illness but with the way in which they are misunderstood and treated. This is the most significant theme of the novel, but it also encompasses so much more: eugenics as practised by Nazi Germany in the 1930s, during Hitler’s rise to power; the hereditary nature of mental illness; the way experts have been groping around in the dark for so long trying to find treatments; families who remain silent about their past and their inability to reveal secrets. The story alternates between Sabine in a psychiatric hospital in the USA in 1984 suffering from extreme anxiety after the birth of her new baby, and Rigmor in Germany in 1934, in a similar condition. She is eventually admitted to Sonnenstein Pyschiatric Hospital. The link between these two women is Inga, a loving, caring sister to Rigmor and later an austere woman who has never revealed how her sister died from a forced sterilisation which was decreed by the Nazi government. She is terrified that the illness has been passed down through the generations. Sylvia True is generous to all of her characters, understanding that people often have few choices: the doctor who is paid to look after Rigmor co-operates with the regime as long as possible, until he discovers the dreadful truth of what’s being done in Sonnenstein; Rigmor’s distant mother, who mistakenly believes that expensive care will cure her daughter; Inga, who is determined to help Sabine, even when she is not wanted, who makes mistakes, accepts them, tries again, and gradually makes small steps forward. Her attempts to humanise the canteen at the hospital with table cloths and flowers shines a light on her own humanity.

This is a clever book which offers subtle changes in understanding as it goes along, all the more powerful when the reader realises it is based on True’s own family history - Rubery Awards Review.

Rubery award

The entire team at Collective Ink would like to congratulate Sylvia True on this wonderful accomplishment.

Read Where Madness Lies Today


Mental health

Where Madness Lies

A story about the high price of repression, and how one woman, who lost nearly everything, must be willing to reveal the failures of the past in order to save future generations.

Germany, 1934. Rigmor, a young Jewish woman is a patient at Sonnenstein, a premier psychiatric institution known for their curative treatments. But with the tide of eugenics and the Nazis’ rise to power, Rigmor is swept up in a campaign to rid Germany of the mentally ill.

USA, 1984. Sabine, battling crippling panic and depression commits herself to McLean Hospital, but in doing so she has unwittingly agreed to give up her baby.

Linking these two generations of women is Inga, who did everything in her power to help her sister, Rigmor. Now with her granddaughter, Sabine, Inga is given a second chance to free someone she loves from oppressive forces, both within and without.

This is a story about hope and redemption, about what we pass on, both genetically and culturally. It is about the high price of repression, and how one woman, who lost nearly everything, must be willing to reveal the failures of the past in order to save future generations.

With chilling echoes of our time, Where Madness Lies is based on a true story of the author’s own family.

Nazi Germany


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