• Agnes's Jacket

  • A Psychologist's Search for the Meanings of Madness
  • By: Gail A. Hornstein
  • Narrated by: Marguerite Gavin
  • Length: 14 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 21-08-09
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Gildan Media, LLC
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.6 (10 ratings)


In a Victorian-era German asylum, seamstress Agnes Richter painstakingly stitched a mysterious autobiographical text into every inch of the jacket she created from her institutional uniform. Despite every attempt to silence them, hundreds of other patients have managed to get their stories out, at least in disguised form. Today, in a vibrant underground net-work of "psychiatric survivor groups" all over the world, patients work together to unravel the mysteries of madness and help one another re-cover. Optimistic, courageous, and surprising, Agnes's Jacket takes us from a code-cracking bunker during World War II to the church basements and treatment centers where a whole new way of understanding the mind has begun to take form. A vast gulf exists between the way medicine explains psychiatric illness and the experiences of those who suffer. Hornstein's luminous work helps us bridge that gulf, guiding us through the inner lives of those diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar illness, depression, and paranoia and emerging with nothing less than a new model for understanding one another and ourselves.
©2009 Gail A. Hornstein (P)2009 Gildan Media Corp
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Brianako on 22-09-15

Hilarious accents

What disappointed you about Agnes's Jacket?

At one point, late in the book, Hornstein eulogises "feminist" writing as non hierarchical, but having several centres. I frequently wondered what was the point? To parody, I was cycling through the market square in Cambridge. The flower seller waved at in my direction. Did she see me? Was she as preoccuppied with Agnes Jacket as I was? Would she have been as sanctimonious as me if she could have spoken to me in words, instead of waving? Would she have asked as many rhetorical questions? Was the florist even relevant to the point I was making? We will never know.

Who was your favorite character and why?

John's story weaved the mystic and the insane so closely, it reminded me of Icarus. Peter's and Nicky's stories were harrowing in their own way

What didn’t you like about Marguerite Gavin’s performance?

Gavin has only two accents; Felicity Pippinsworth from plummy London or Hamish McTavish, a half drunk Scottish man doing shady deals in West Belfast. Both are preposterous. When not doing accents, her insistent inflections at teh end of every sentence are faintly condescending.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Agnes's Jacket?

I would have cut out all autobiographical ramblings, all repetition, and credited the reader with some intelligence.

Any additional comments?

Some well made points, but seven hours of my life I will never get back.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Matt on 14-05-10

Not bad

I didn't know what to expect from this book at first. If you can get past the narrator's self-righteous delivery, it is an interesting listen. A decent narrative about the shortcomings of psychiatric 'medecine' and the reactions of psychiatric patients who have been exposed to the system. Provides some nice examples of how professionals can learn from patients. Worthwhile listen.

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