A Gilded Age historical fiction novel
First line: "Goldengrove devoured my sister every time I closed my eyes."
When Charlotte's parents have her older sister, Phoebe, committed to Goldengrove Asylum, Charlotte decides to channel her inner Nellie Bly and get committed to the asylum herself in order to rescue her sister. Only she doesn't tell anyone her plans. And it only dawns on her once she's locked up in the asylum as just another anonymous indigent 'madwoman' that it might not be so easy to find Phoebe, or to get back out.
"I'd planned to find Phoebe, then inform the doctors that we were both sane, there had been a mistake, and we were leaving....I would save my sister the way she had saved me. But I could see now that what I'd imagined was only one of many, many possibilities and far from the likeliest one. Like Nellie Bly, I'd found it relatively simple to get in; how hard would it prove, I now wondered, to get out?"I didn't like this one as much as I thought I would when I first started reading it. Probably because I found Charlotte's voice, as well as many of her actions, frustrating. She never would have succeeded in her quest to rescue her sister without the help of the other women in the asylum. I mean, who decides to get herself thrown in an asylum without a good plan of how to get back out? But maybe Macallister's main point was to show how unfairly women were treated back then, and how easy it was for the men around them to deem them mad and have them locked away for the rest of their lives. She certainly does an excellent job of portraying life in the asylum! Charlotte's personal life, and romantic drama, were less interesting to me. And I thought it all wrapped up a bit too neatly at the end. But the things that bugged me about this one might not bug you. And there were things I liked about it. So if you're interested in this time period, or in the stories of the women who were put in these asylums, definitely give it a try.