The Lost Women of Azalea Court

Red Hen. Sept. 2022. 264p. ISBN 9781636280493. pap. $16.95. F
On a chilly November evening in Northampton, MA, Iris Blum goes missing. She lives on Azalea Court, a small group of houses located on the grounds of a former state mental hospital. Her husband, Asher, is the 94-year-old former head psychiatrist at the hospital. He is writing a book about mental illness, and Iris has refused to help him. The police investigation, headed by Detective McPhee, is difficult. She and Lexi, Iris and Asher’s daughter, think that the psychiatrist may be involved in the disappearance. The residents, although they live in proximity, do not know each other well. The story, narrated in parts by each of them, reveals women with traumatic pasts. Dr. Blum, a Holocaust survivor who fought with the partisans, is stubborn and domineering. As the search for Iris continues, the community’s lies, secrets, and traumas reveal themselves. This is a story about emotional abuse, unethical practices at mental hospitals, McCarthyism, and how they affect life.

CORRECTION: Due to an editing mistake, this review originally stated that The Lost Women of Azalea Court was Meeropol’s debut novel. In fact, she has published several previous novels (including 2020’s Her Sister’s Tattoo and 2017’s Kinship of Clover). LJ regrets the error.

VERDICT This latest by Meeropol (Her Sister’s Tattoo), the daughter-in-law of the late Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, contains mystery elements, but it’s primarily a story of loss, healing, and women’s strength.
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