Woman 99

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

I read "Woman 99" ARC through NetGalley to my delight! The story is set in the late 1890's, concerning women who have no rights and psychiatric hospitals of those days that could hold women for any reason. The main young naive character's sister is actually mentally unstable and sent away.  She gets herself incarcerated anonymously to save and free her sister, discovering many sane other patients and horrific living conditions along the way. The novel was intriguing and opened my eyes to how much change has happened in the field of mental illness. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and recommend it to any historical fiction fan!
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This book was such a pageturner for me. I fell in love with Charlotte and Phoebe as well as the rest of the girls in the asylum.
This book really opened up my eyes to the treatment of women in asylums during this time and has peaked my interest in reading Nellie Bly’s account.
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"Woman 99" tells the story of a girl who feigns insanity so she can be sent into an insane asylum in order to rescue her sister, who she believes was wrongfully imprisoned in the asylum. 
I was really excited for this story, but unfortunately I was a bit disappointed. The mystery of what happened to Charlotte's sister kept me reading, but I found it a bit boring to get through. I wish that more had happened, and that the pacing was better. Greer Macallister's writing is good, just a little too slow moving for my taste. 
There were also several racial slurs used in this book, as well as racist sentiments used, and they weren't pushed back upon nearly as often as they should have been, which should've been 100%.
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It read like a prison book, with a bunch of wrongfully convicted prisoners trying to escape. The plot unfolds gradually and characters appear throughout the novel so that you are kept glued to the pages. I liked the symmetry of the novel, how it started with the posh life of the Smiths and it ended in the same circles, but a whole world has been opened to the reader and the main character as the novel progressed.

I knew nothing of the asylum life of the 1880s in the USA; it was a well presented and researched historical bit. I don't know how much of this could have actually happened, but as a fictional account it delivered. One thing that I think is far fetched is how easy it was for Charlotte to accomplish her mission in the exact amount of time she had at her disposal. However, for the sake of entertainment, it has to be accepted. I thought the main character, Charlotte Smith, was well constructed and believable as a person, although maybe not all her successful on first try forays into the life of the asylum searching for Phoebe. The other characters are well made to fit their typology and role in the novel. All the women that joined the plot of the novel as the story unfolded were added methodically, and at no point did I face the problem of mistaking them for one another. 

Especially in the first part of the novel there are constant references to Charlotte's past life and memories of her time with Henry, the man she loved. They are included without warning in the novel, but I didn't feel that this made the reading any difficult. For some reason, the whole reading experience felt clouded; the atmosphere of the novel is a grey-ish one and even the ending felt burdened with the discoveries Phoebe and Charlotte made in the previous few weeks. It's not an easy read in that respect, but one worth the time. 

Although I saw a happy ending coming from the very beginning (because it seemed that sort of book), I was pleased with how the novel ended. If nothing had come of Charlotte's attempt to save Phoebe from the asylum I would have been disappointed. It's a suspenseful novel, gripping at times, a plot well crafted, with unexpected twists, inviting you to read more from the author. The secret, I think, is to not search faults with every aspect. As a fictional piece, it's a well done one.
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It is the late 1880's. Woman 99 is Charlotte, a woman who has faked a suicide in order to be sent to an asylum in order to save her sister. Like history, many of these patients are quite mentally sound and get abused by the staff and management. Many are sent here for any number of reasons - family, inconvenience, money, or misunderstanding. 

This novel is a quick page turner. Given the dark reality that this is based on, I would have preferred a little more darkness and grit seeing as this was how women were really treated in the time period. There were a few too many coincedences, but the novel was extremely well-written and never disinterested me. The themes of strong women and overcoming inequality were a little heavy handed at times but I still thoroughly enjoyed Charlotte's personal growth.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark and Netgalley for an advanced copy. It was a great read. 3.5/5!
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A story about how the bond and love between sisters is so strong one will go to extreme lengths to save the other one. The book also highlights the mistreatment of Women in mental hospitals when they were privately owned and not well regulated.
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This one just really unsettled me. I know that it will find a great audience, but because of where I am right now it I'm just not a part of that crowd. Thank you!
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Thanks to #NetGalley #Sourcebooks for a free copy of #woman99 by @theladygreer in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

What would you do for your sister?

In this histfic thriller, 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 seek 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 Woman 99 in a bookclub, these are a few questions I would ask:
* Are you satisfied with the justice or lack of justice that occurred?
*Do you think that 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.

Recommended for fans of gritty histfic, for readers who enjoy cheering for strong, determined, brave women, and for those who want a gripping page turner.

Review posted on blog 3/22/19 readingladies.com
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Woman 99 certainly helps one to be reminded how women in America were once merely the property of their father and after that their husband AND how if you did not follow the rules they could do as they chose in so many ways.

Charlotte has always known her sister Phoebe was different than her and those differences soon become too much for the upper crust 1888 San Francisco society they live in.   Phoebe is sent to Goldengrove, an asylum for women...those who truly might need and those who are inconvenience to those who 'own' them.  Charlotte feels she must save her as she feels Phoebe has saved her before.  Charlotte's answer is to get herself admitted and rescue Phoebe.  Under a pretense of lies and trickery, Charlotte gets into Goldengrove only to realize getting Phoebe out will not be so easy.  Charlotte meets many patients and some are there due to circumstance not any mental health issues...a not needed wife, a prostitute, a tempting woman....

McAllister writes of the asylum in such a way you feel like you are there (even in the rooms with padded walls) and your heart breaks to think that these women had NO ONE to fight for them or their freedom if someone insisted they belonged there.
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My third book by this author and I have enjoyed all of them equally.

Woman 99 is set mostly in an asylum for women in San Francisco in the late 1800's. The author has a talent for telling historical fiction as it was, with plenty of real fact spiced with her own fiction. In this book the main character, Charlotte, gets herself committed to the asylum in order to help her sister who is already there. From this we get to see how patients at that time were treated for their problems in ways that seem cruel and unbelievable today.

I enjoyed many of the characters especially some of the women in the asylum and wondered all through the book what the author planned for the delightful Phoebe. She was obviously one of the patients who did in fact need to be in care - just better care than was provided in this particular place! Of course Ms. Macallister had a solution and it was an excellent one. The ending was neat and satisfying. An enjoyable read.
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This is a pretty good story but it really left me wanting more. I had very high hopes because asylum plus 1880’s should have been something special. Macallister didn’t write a believable story and I never felt the time and place.  It was interesting enough and I wanted to see how she got herself out of the asylum so I had to see it through and I’m not mad about the journey I just don’t think I will recommend Woman 99
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Incredibly well-constructed world!  The characters of the mental institution where Charlotte has schemed to enter are given just the right amount of pathos and quirk.  Charlotte's foolish endeavor to attempt the rescue of her sister from an insane asylum from the inside is a plot-line I didn't think I could handle, but it turned into an early 1900s version of Prison Break and I loved it!
Thanks so much NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for sharing this title!
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“Freedom within Goldengrove was not the same as freedom from it”. 

Would you voluntarily risk your freedom for someone you loved, even if it meant risking your life? In Woman 99 that is exactly what was at stake when Charlotte set out to rescue her sister, Phoebe, from Goldengrove Woman’s Asylum. With a plan to have herself committed Charlotte learned first hand how different the world she knew and the world beyond the walls of Goldengrove as Women 99 were, but Charlotte was determined to rescue Phoebe at all costs. 

Let me just start out by saying how much I loved all the layers to this story. The anticipation of Charlotte’s journey left me feeling as if I was experiencing it myself. What I admired most about Charlotte was her resilience, strength and determination to rescue her sister despite the obstacles she faced. Sister was serious. 

As a fan of all things historical fiction I was shocked to learn about the harsh therapies and practices asserted on women in mental health institutions during the 1800’s. The offenses that placed women in these institutions and the cruel practices that were believed to cure in this era was alarming. I spent some time after I finished reading to learn more about Nellie Bly who went undercover in 1887 in Blackwell’s Island and her account of the treatment and conditions of asylum’s during that time and the practices are incomprehensible. Such a great read. I would highly recommend you pick up a copy. 


I want to say a special thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the ARC copy.
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What a great read. I had previously picked up a Greer McAllister book and sadly DNFd it. I’m so glad I saw this one to the end. 

Set in San Francisco at the turn of the century this book is full of historical insight, mystery and at times had me at the edge of my seat. 

I am one not to give away too much of a plot for those who like to go into books not knowing much. The things that will stay with me are character related and not plot related. The bond between the two sisters in this book and the love they have for one another. The friendships that were formed in the conditions that were present in the book. Also the topic of mental
Illness. 

Thank you so much to net galley and source books for allowing me the privilege to read and review this arc copy
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Inspired by the true story “Ten Days in a Mad-House” by Nellie Bly.  Woman 99 is the number that is given to Charlotte Smith upon entering the Goldengrove asylum of her own free will in order to break out her sister Phoebe, placed there by their parents. Although there are numerous flashbacks, the bulk of the story takes place inside the asylum.The dehumanizing conditions and pathetic methods of ‘healing’ are hard to read but patients’ ingenuity, camaraderie and survival mechanisms are believable and well-written for the most part. A bit far-fetched as far as Charlotte being able to gain access into forbidden areas/hallways/wards in the asylum with so few roadblocks.
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I got this as a read now on Netgalley. I thought I would enjoy a little historical fiction to break up my normal thriller addiction, this one fell flat for me. The writing was just ok.
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Greer Macallister does it again! Her third novel, Woman 99 is about sisters that would do anything for each other and will! I would classify this as a historical thriller that takes place in the 1880s. I am an asylum junkie and get love reading about them. This book does not disappoint.  Pheobe is put in the asylum and her sister Charlotte is so desperate to get her out that she poses as an insane person to get in. 

I LOVED everything about this book, the characters, the plot, the time period, the setting.
I cannot recommend this book enough!
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Thank you to NetGalley and Source books for an opportunity to review an advance copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

WOMAN 99 is the story of Charlotte, the youngest daughter of an affluent family living in San Francisco in the late 1880s. When Charlotte's parents commit her older sister, Phoebe, to Goldengrove, an insane asylum for women, Charlotte decides that she will fake her way in and rescue her. Billed as a historical thriller, the story takes us through Charlotte's experience as a sane woman playing the part of a patient while trying to locate her sister and break out of the hospital.

What I loved:

I'm fascinated with history and enjoyed reading about what it was like to be a patient in an American mental asylum. This was an extremely well-researched book! 

I really liked learning about the inner workings of these hospitals and the treatments such as ice baths, the removal of teeth, padded rooms, etc. It was also interesting to learn about the patients/inmates and why there were there. Some women had chronic illnesses (everything from advanced stages of neurosyphilis, to epilepsy, to alcoholism and drug addiction), while others were simply deemed social outcasts (women with postpartum depression, women who had had affairs or "inappropriate" relationships, etc.)

I enjoyed the twist about 3/4 regarding the identity of one of the women Charlotte befriended.

I also liked the sisterly bond between Charlotte and Phoebe - it was very sweet and refreshing to see the affection they had for each other and the great lengths they would go to support one another.

What I didn't like:

For me, this was not a thriller and I felt like the pace was too slow.  I also felt like Charlotte's choice to fake her way into a mental asylum was not very believable. 

While it didn't suit my taste, I do believe this would be a great book for someone who has an interest in the time period and the history of mental health. It's clear that while we have come along way from the days of institutionalizing individuals and throwing away the key, our society still does not have a functioning mental health system.
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This is a very interesting and rather fascinating historical fiction, set in the America of the end of the 18th century, and precisely inside an asylum for women.
Goldengrove was supposed to be a model asylum, where "insane" women were sent there to be "healed" or at least to be "protected" from themselves. But the Goldengrove Charlotte has seen was anything but a model place. 
Without the knowledge of her family, Charlotte followed her sister inside the asylum as an inmate to find her and bring her back home. In the weeks she spent in the asylum, she came to know the "madwomen" in there, their stories and struggles and she found out facts about them and the institution that didn't figure in the public image known of it. 

The story was compelling, and it was really interesting to get to know Charlotte and the other women, how they behaved and the way the asylum changed them in so many different ways.
It was a touching story, and it shed a different light on the position of women within society in that particular period of time, or at least, the "right" position they were supposed to occupy and the prices they paid for daring to think otherwise.
I would definitely recommend it.
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I have always been fascinated by "insane asylums" and this book added to that. Well written and interesting, not all people committed are "lunatics".
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