March 22, 2019
Woman 99 by Greer Mcallister
Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Thriller
Thanks to #NetGalley #Sourcebooks for a free copy of #woman99 by @theladygreer in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
What would you do for your sister?
In the historical fiction thriller, Woman 99, two sisters living a life of privilege suddenly find themselves in a dire situation. Their parents have committed Charlotte’s older sister to an insane asylum because of her pattern of mood swings and a recent emotional outburst. Charlotte is on a quest to rescue her sister from the insane asylum. Inspired by real life Nellie Bly, Charlotte manages to get herself committed to the asylum by staging a fake suicide attempt. Once inside she experiences troubling events, conducts a desperate search for her sister, decides to enlist help from a risky source, attempts a harrowing rescue, and risks her life.
The historical reality that the story depicts is troubling. First, the inability of the medical profession in 1888 to diagnose, understand, or treat mental illness is staggering to think about when you consider all the women in history who suffered from bi polar, postpartum depression, etc. and were institutionalized because of it. Then, the fact that men could send a woman to an asylum for the remainder of her life for having an affair or voicing an opinion is almost incomprehensible! No medical diagnosis, no consent, no recourse. I can’t imagine living with this threat. Many of the women in the asylum were in this position, and the ones who truly needed to be there because of a real mental illness were not receiving effective treatment. Charlotte is determined to rescue her sister from this situation, care for her, and bring her home to live with the family again. Will she succeed?
In this engaging page turner, I appreciated the author’s extensive research and enjoyed the vivid details in describing the asylum, treatments, living conditions, and 1888 San Francisco.
I have thoughts about the ending. If I were discussing this in a book club, these are a few questions I would ask:
- Are you are satisfied with the justice or lack of justice that occurred?
- Do you think the justice or lack of justice that occurred is the most the women could hope for?
- Do you think the justice or lack of justice was acceptable or common in 1888?
Thoughtful themes include family loyalty, women’s rights, determination, courage, a commitment to help others, justice, and love between sisters.
Woman 99 is recommended for fans of gritty and suspense filled histfic, for readers who enjoy cheering for strong, determined, brave women, and for those who want a gripping page turner.
My rating: 4 Stars
Meet the Author, Greer Mcallister
Raised in the Midwest, Greer Macallister is a poet, short story writer, playwright and novelist. Her debut novel THE MAGICIAN’S LIE was a USA Today and MIBA Indie bestseller, an Indie Next, LibraryReads, and Target Book Club Pick, and was chosen by guest judge Whoopi Goldberg as a Book of the Month Club main selection. It has been optioned for film by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films.
Macallister’s new novel GIRL IN DISGUISE is inspired by the real-life first female Pinkerton detective, Kate Warne, who was hired by Allan Pinkerton to solve cases and fight crime in 1850s Chicago. It received a starred review from Publishers Weekly and Booklist called it “a rip-roaring, fast-paced treat to read.”
If you’ve read this, what do you think about the justice or lack of justice served?
Have you read other books about mental health treatment in the 1880s?
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Next week look for a review of
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
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