Cover Image: Woman 99

Woman 99

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Member Reviews

I tried this book a couple of times before it finally stuck long enough for me to get invested in the story. However, I feel strongly that this book could have been SO much better. The author spends the first half of the book kind of sort of mentioning various ailments and such that landed these women in the asylum, and then glosses over most with a "rescue" in the second half of the novel. I really really wanted to like this book but I'm afraid I just didn't. The story was just not compelling and one would think that it would have been. 2 stars.
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Thanks to Sourcebooks Landmark and Netgalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Phoebe and Charlotte Smith are sisters who have always had to rely on each other as their domineering mother plots and plans how to use them to better her position in society.  So when Phoebe's 'delicate sensibilities' get her sent to Goldengrove Asylum against her will, it's up to Charlotte to try and get her back home.
What follows is Charlotte's bold attempt to rescue her sister - along the way meeting incredible women who have been committed unjustly and trying to help give them a voice.
Although the beginning of this book dragged a bit, I did end up enjoying it.  An interesting expose into the perception of mental health in the early 20th century and treatments at the time.
Well-researched and well-written.  I wouldn't say it was gripping but it was entertaining.
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This book was really well written and felt historically accurate to me. Descriptions and character development were spot-on, mostly. While reading this book I felt like an active reader versus a passive one, which is always a plus for me. 

Surprisingly I preferred the characterization of the supporting characters to the main character of the story. Charlotte often fell flat to me and had this kind of hero complex that I didn’t enjoy. There was some mild romance which was sweet, but I like how it wasn’t the main focus of the book. 

The reason why I give this book 4 stars instead of 5 is because the premise itself is so interesting but I felt it lacked emotional depth. Another reviewer stated that she didn’t “feel like the main character struggled that much,” or if she did the character did not vocalize how negatively the asylum experience impacted her. 

Pros: well-written, interesting concept, good description of minor characters. 

Cons: story climax and followthrough felt lax, slightly underdeveloped emotional depth for major characters. 

Overall a solid read that I enjoyed! Thank you to the publisher for the chance to review this historical fiction book.
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Thank you for ARC to Netgalley and the publisher.

The story is set in Asylum for women and how one woman Charlotte Smith fakes insanity to be sent to the asylum her sister is sent to. 

Unfortunately this book was one that is DNF. I could not finish this book for lack of interest in the subject of asylums, the dark subject matter that I was not in a frame of mind to pursue at the time.
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Woman 99 was a great historical psychological thriller. I was hooked from very early on and felt for Phoebe and the trauma she and her sister felt upon her confinement to Goldengrove. Such atrocities happened all too often to young men and women who society wanted to silence, to hide, to teach a lesson, more often than not, for appearances sake. It was heartbreaking in parts. Phoebe's behaviour was odd at times, she didn't conform to those expectations her parents had of her and to save themselves any embarrassment they had her committed. Heartbroken Charlotte's behaviour that followed was fantastic and made for some great reading. This story created such a tense, eerie atmosphere at times that I was afraid to read on, in a good way when dealing with psychological thrillers. I really enjoyed this book, if that verb is appropriate when referring to such traumatic and upsetting subject matter. I thought it was well written and full of tension. I award it 4 stars!!
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I have to admit, Woman 99 was not what I was expecting. A woman having herself voluntarily committed to an asylum known for its brutal treatment of patients had me thinking it would be more “thriller-ish”, but I actually grew bored at times. The novel was slow-moving and I didn’t feel like I experienced an accurate portrayal of life in an asylum during the late 1800s because Charlotte actually had it pretty easy. Instead we were simply told about these horrors through other secondary characters which removed me from the story a bit. 

Clearly Greer Macallister did her research when it came to the treatment of patients in these asylums. The methods used to cure the mentally ill were simply barbaric— ice cold showers, water treatment, solitary confinement, to name a few. To think that many of these women were committed under false pretenses— adultery, prostitution, or simply because their husbands wanted them out of the way— is mind-blowing! It makes me glad to be living in a time with such vast improvements in medicine and health care. 

I truly enjoyed the book from a viewpoint of bonding between women; more specifically, the relationship between Charlotte and her sister Phoebe. The bond they shared was unbreakable, which becomes apparent when Charlotte follows Phoebe to Goldengrove. Certain chapters flashed back in time and detailed the events leading up to Phoebe’s admission to the asylum, and the connection and devotion between the sisters is indisputable. Charlotte also goes on to form strong friendships with some of the women she meets in the asylum. 

Overall, this was a solid and easy read that I would recommend to any fan of historical fiction novels.
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When Charlotte Smith's parents have her sister, Phoebe, committed to Goldengrove Asylum in the dead of night, Charlotte suspects there's something she's not being told. Determined to find--and rescue--her sister from whatever horrors await her there, Charlotte feigns a suicide attempt and gets herself committed. Inside the institution's walls, she discovers firsthand the atrocities of late 19th-century mental health "treatments" for female patients. "I wanted to say that this place made no sense," Charlotte considers not long after her arrival, "but unfortunately, it did. It made a terrible kind of sense... as long as you assumed every woman in the place was mad and that her only worth came from labor or silence, preferably both."

Greer Macallister (The Magician's Lie) notes at the end of Woman 99 that Goldengrove itself is an imaginary place, but the patient treatments she describes were derived from contemporaneous records. This sense of rich historical detail infuses every part of the novel, from Charlotte's dresses to descriptions of San Francisco. Against this backdrop, Charlotte struggles at Goldengrove to shed light on the mistreatment of women at the hands of profit-hungry men; it's impossible not to root for the sisters as they work to combat that mistreatment on behalf of themselves and others. Woman 99 is a fast-paced historical thriller perfect for book club discussions.
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I did not finish Woman 99 by Greer Macallister. I just couldn't get into the story although I know others loved it!
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While this book was very different from the authors previous novel The Magicians Lie, it was still very enjoyable. I loved the slow burn of the story and the in depth descriptions of what Charlotte went through to get to her sister. The ending was so very sweet. Loved 5is one and highly recommend!
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💊BOOK REVIEW💊
Woman 99 by Greer Macallister

-DESCRIPTION-
Takes places in the 1800s, between two sisters.  One sister is committed to an aslyum by their parents and the other sister follows her, in an attempt to get her out.

-THOUGHTS-
1. Very Nellie Bly in that it is so eye opening in, not only the conditions of asylums, but just how easily people (especially women) could be committed against their will.
2. The writing was beautiful, the story eye opening and scary and loving.  A page turner and I wanted to know everything!
3.  This book has made me want to read all I can about mental asylums back in the day.

-RATING-
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I highly recommend this book.

-SIMILAR RECOMMENDED READS-
The Book of Essie
Dead Girls Club
Brain on Fire
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The story was set in the late 1800’s in San Francisco. A woman named Phoebe from a wealthy family is sent to a mental asylum for women who were ‘mad’ (as they described them), were nuisances to their husbands and families or just didn’t conform to the standards of what a woman should be. Her 20 year old sister Charlotte, betrothed to a wealthy man she didn’t love, creates a plan so that she could also be admitted to the women’s asylum – her aim, to get her sister out. She became labeled woman 99.

The operation of the mental asylum were well researched and while the story was fictional, the ‘treatments’ were actually used in female asylums in that period. The characters drove this story and I really enjoyed it!
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Greer is a local author to me.  I loved all of her books prior to this.  I didn't know much about the era and women she was writing about and I love historical fiction that teaches me things!
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Having read Greer Macallister’s Girl in Disguise and having enjoyed the story, I looked forward to reading Woman 99. Like many young women, especially those from wealthy families in the 1880s, Charlotte discovers she must marry a man she does not love. Her parents wish the marriage to take place. Macallister gives readers glimpses into the full story through flashbacks in order to keep suspense high. To add to Charlotte’s trouble, Phoebe, her sister, is in a mental institution for the “curably insane.”
Readers soon learn Charlotte has a crush on Henry Sidwell who works for her father. Naturally, that relationship would be unacceptable to her parents.
Woman 99 does exhibit inconsistencies. While Charlotte’s parents hover over her life in many aspects, they allow her to take a trip unchaperoned. Woman 99 does not deliver on its promise as I had hoped. Still, I am glad I read the whole story.
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*2.5 stars

I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. It started off well. Late 1800's, where woman can be sent to an asylum simply for not complying with 'normal' conventions. You blink wrong and you can be sent away! Well, Phoebe has sad days and days where she's flying high, so her wealthy parents send her away. That leaves us with her sister Charlotte, who is engaged to be married to man she doesn't love & missing a sister she believes doesn't belong in an asylum. So she concocts a plan to get herself admitted so she can break Phoebe out. Once she's in the asylum she gets to experience some horrific experiments that they did back then. I thought there would be more trouble than what Charlotte actually experiments though. I know some of the things were really horrible but I also felt they weren't really explored. To be honest, I felt that Charlotte had it easy. I expected this horrible, painful, awful asylum, but it just didn't feel that way. They talked about the bad food, the cold scrubbing showers, and the hours of either sitting quietly or working themselves to the bone but I didn't feeeeeel it. Does that make sense? Things just came too easily for Charlotte in this book. We also got flashbacks to Charlotte's life before she came to the asylum, which I don't think added anything to the story. Towards the end I thought things would get harder but, once again, everything was just too easy. I suppose I expected more hardship and that's not what I read. At times I was bored, sometimes interested, and other times I just wanted the book to be over. 


**Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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3.5 stars.   A unique storyline of family, sisterhood and sacrifice.

Charlotte and Phoebe Smith are sisters and best friends.   Growing up on their wealthy family estate, they share many childhood secrets and memories.  After one too many socially unacceptable incidents, their parents send Phoebe to the local woman’s asylum, where they can ‘cure’ her unpredictable and unmanageable moods.   Shocked and furious about the separation, Charlotte leaves her family to secretly register herself as an inmate at the asylum to find and rescue her sister.  

I love the premise of this novel as I am fascinated and intrigued by stories about asylums.   This novel was well written and highly atmospheric.  The rich and shocking detail surrounding the happenings within the asylum was unnerving and eerie.   I felt for the inmates and was rooting for a positive outcome for all.

I was enthralled for the first ¾ of the book, engrossed within the details and trying to figure out what would happen to Charlotte and Phoebe.   I’m not sure if I built up my expectations too high or just expected something completely different, but the ending didn’t work for me.  I was waiting for ‘something’ to happen that never quite did.   The story concluded neatly and tied up all the loose ends, but it was lacking something.   I was hoping for a shock, twist or ‘a-ha’ moment that never did happen.  

While the ending fell short of what I had hoped for, the buildup and presentation of the storyline was excellent.  I was drawn into the characters’ lives – my curiosity piqued from the start.  There are several characters throughout this novel and they were all memorable and impactful. Overall, this was an enjoyable and unique novel.

This was a Traveling Friends read. 

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC to read and review!
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Woman 99 is a terrifying book even if you were already familiar with how women's health was treated back in that time. You can tell the author did an extensive amount of research, and it helped drive home how terrible and hopeless all those women must have felt being trapped in these institutions until someone deemed them "sane" enough to leave...if they ever left. The relationships between not only Charlotte and Phoebe, but all the women imprisoned there, is the heart of the book and made it worth reading. Definitely recommended.
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I have been looking for a great book that explores the mental institutions and the women that would be admitted there without having anything to say about it, and found it! Greer Macallister masters the feelings of the women in a fictional mental institution she named Goldengrove but was based on real mental institutions in the late 1800's. The author did an amazing research for a reader to feel exactly how the characters in the book are feeling. Charlotte admits herself to a mental asylum because her sister, Phoebe, was sent there by her parents. She goes there to rescue her sister as she believes Phoebe was sent to the institution because of her as she stood up for her sister when her parents wanted to marry her off to the man she did not want. The book takes readers on a journey of how strong female relationships can be, especially sister relationships. How women would stand up for each other and themselves back in the day but were still condemn to act without a voice. It also shows how a family in the late 1800's would react to mental illness and how protecting your name and estate was very important. I absolutely loved the writing style and this novel had me rooting for the characters and made me upset when things weren't going the right way. This novel would be fantastic for a book club read as it explores many interesting and important subjects. I can't wait for the author's next works and will be checking out her back-listed books.
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I thought I was really going to like this one, but it just wasn’t for me. 

Thank you to Netgalley for an advanced reader copy.
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This book kept me on the edge of my seat. At times, the mystery seemed slightly predictable but the creepy atmosphere and well developed characters kept me interested. MacAllister is an excellent author and I look forward to reading more of her other works. Thanks Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
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This was a good premise, and I was interested in the story for about 60% of the book. But then the mystery became a bit dull, and I thought it took a bit longer to get to the sister than necessary.

The writing was strong and I love this author's work. I was just a little disappointed in the momentum.
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