Monday, May 6, 2019

Woman 99 by Greer Macallister

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.

Happy Reading! 

22 comments:

  1. Sorry this wasn't as good as you hoped. I am interested in the reasons and treatments of the women who were committed during the period, and of course, in Nellie Bly. Sometimes, though the truth (as in the case of the intrepid Nellie) make better reading than fiction.

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    1. Nellie Bly was awesome. I love reading books about her. :)

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  2. Um yea, if I was going to get myself thrown into an asylum on purpose, you could be I would know how to get out!

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    1. Kind of an important detail, don't you think? ;D

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  3. The blurb sounds intriguing though; bummer that it didn't grasp you as you'd expected. After reading your thoughts I'm not sure about this book; I'll probably give it a try but in no hurry to read it. ;)

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    1. Yeah, I was sad it wasn't better. But I'd be really interested to hear what you think of this one, Melody....if you ever read it. :)

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  4. I felt the EXACT same way about this one! I had hoped it would be a blow-my-socks-off read, but it just wasn't. The depictions of asylum life were definitely vivid, but I agree -- Charlotte was not the most dynamic of heroines and the whole thing wrapped up WAY too easily.

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    1. Right!? I'm so glad I'm not the only one who had problems with Charlotte and the ending on this one. :)

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  5. My favorite book about getting in and trying to get out of an asylum is Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. That is only one part of the larger story, but it was really good!

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    1. I do like Sarah Waters. I'll have to give Fingersmith a read. Thanks for the rec! :)

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  6. Its an interesting idea for a novel but it seems to me if the author is going to tackle an important issue like this she must really do her homework in terms of what asylumns were like back in the late 1800's. Its kind of frightening to think about, the abuse that was going on and people there against their will.

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    1. I do feel like Macallister did her research; all her asylum details felt very authentic ... and sadly real. They were such scary places, weren't they?

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  7. I remember putting this one my list when it first came out. It sounds fascinating and scary! I'll keep my expectations in check though so I won't be too disappointed by it!

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  8. The Matrimonial Advertisement talked about life in an asylum and I thought it was horrifying! What was done to normal people is frightening! But yeah, why wouldn't you have a good plan to get yourself out when you get committed to save someone else? That would be frustrating.

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    1. Any character with any sense would have some kind of plan in place to get back out of a place like that!

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  9. It's always a bummer when a book isn't as good as we're hoping it will be.

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    1. It wasn't awful. But it definitely won't be on any of my top ten lists. :)

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  10. I have been wondering about this book and have noted it to try at some point. Will keep your thoughts in mind. Yes, my first thought would probably be - why didn't you plan better? How did you think you were going to get out? Ha!

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    1. Maybe it's because she was so sheltered growing up, but I just thought she was really dumb.

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  11. It's a bummer when a book isn't as good as we hoped. I'm getting a lot of reads like that at the moment and hardly finishing any!

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    1. Don't you hate when you hit a run of mediocre books? That happens to me, too.

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