Cover Image: Woman 99

Woman 99

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2..5 stars.  This was just ok for me.  The first part of the book was slow but thankfully it picked up.  I also wasn't terribly invested in the characters.  It was interesting to learn the "treatments" these women were subjected to in the 1800s.  I enjoyed McAllister's The Magician's Lie so I would be willing to give her another go.  I just have the feeling this one won't stick with me.  Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for a free copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
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99 Reasons to Read Woman 99… (and here are the first five)
1. If you get a hankering for some suspense and historical fiction all rolled into one- this book is right up your alley. Taking place in an insane asylum in the late 1800’s, this book gives a tasteful and realistic perspective of the atrocities of asylum life during this time period.
2. It’s a “banning together when the going gets tough” type of story. If you love stories about unlikely people coming together in a tough situation and coming out on top, this is the story for you. The camaraderie between the women in the asylum is beautifully depicted, and the development of the characters was so well done.
3. The history of mental institutions is both fascinating and horrifying. The lyrical prose in which Macallister paints a picture of the Golden Grove Asylum deserves applause. The mental institution aspect is so interesting. I wring my hands in frustrating thinking about women who were institutionalized for what would today be classified as depression, anxiety, or even a lustful desire.
4. There is a top notch twist towards the end there that I LOVED!
5. The pacing was quick. If you are looking for something to read over the weekend, and you don’t want to feel bogged down. This is the way to go.
There are at least 94 more reasons for why this book is amazing. If there was one bad point to this story, it’s that Charlotte is dressed in the wrong color dress according to her asylum uniform. So, if that’s my biggest complaint, I’d say it was a great read.
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3.5 stars for this gripping, historical thriller!. This one went way back to the 1880s which I was a bit nervous about (I have no idea why!) but it ended up being such a page turner. Charlotte Smith goes into an insane asylum where her sister was taken and becomes one of the inmates.  It was interesting to read about what "ailments" caused women in the 1880s to be committed and also really interesting to remind myself this was a time when women did not feel empowered in society or at home and definitely not inside an asylum.  The character development was so good - I could imagine myself with the band of ladies inside Goldengrove.  It felt like a very dense read but still had a lot of action to keep it moving.  The ending is what didn't really work for me - a bit unbelievable.  I appreciated the author's notes at the end of the book with more resources for delving into mental health asylums of this time period.   An enlightening read for sure!
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Woman 99 by Greer McCallister

When Charlotte's sister Phoebe is sent away to Goldengrove, a Progressive Home for the Curable Insane, Charlotte knows she must rescue her.  So, she figures out a way to be sent there too, unknown to her family and friends.  It takes weeks, and Charlotte learns the depths of the darkness of Goldengrove, where cruelty takes the place of actual treatment, and women with no problems other than being inconvenient for their male family members, are locked away without hope of release.  The women are used as slave labor, and deprived of all worldly comforts, fed the smallest amount possible to keep them alive and granted no freedom.

Charlotte hatches a plan with other sane inmates to escape, and the adventure unfolds, as she attempts to save her sister, and reunite with the man she loves.  In the spirit of Nellie Bly, she finds ways to improve both her own life, and that of those who truly need the services the ideal Goldengrove can provide. 

I received this book from NetGalley.  The book was published March 5, 2019.
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Insane asylums in the early 1900s ads such a topic of interest for me. I loved this! She goes into so much about what it was like and the atmosphere was phenomenal!!
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Charlotte Smith has her life planned out perfectly; that is, until her sister is placed in an insane asylum. Charlotte’s parents willingly committed her sister, Phoebe, to the asylum, and Charlotte knows from the start that something is going on beyond her sister being “mad.” 

Charlotte risks everything and commits herself to the asylum. Not only does she put her life on hold, she has made a huge risk to her safety by doing this. 

The heart of this novel is the historical exploration of these institutions, and in particular, how women were placed there (for any number of reasons, many unrelated to poorly understood at the time mental health), the “treatments,” and the abuses. Also explored is the role of women during the time period. 

On the flipside, this book highlights the sheer will and determination of women even in these difficult roles. It’s clear that Greer Macallister researched these topics well. 

Overall, I loved the messages here, the depiction of the place and time, and portrayal of strong women. 

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
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Woman 99 is the story of two sisters in 1888, effected by mental illness. The lengths one sister will go to, to protect the other…

‘The mind did not discriminate between classes’

Charlotte Smith is the envy of ever San Francisco woman, she comes from wealth and has a fiancé already lined up. However, Charlotte blames herself for her sister Phoebe’s commitment at Goldengrove Asylum. Charlotte hatches a plan to get herself committed to the asylum and in turn free her sister.
Inspired by the writing of Nellie Bly (Ten Days In A MadHouse), she has become consumed with the worry of cruel punishments. 

Upon her arrival at the asylum, Charlotte learns immediately that violence and disobedience will not be tolerated. The patients must obey the staff at all times. After being hosed down in an undignified manner as a ‘shower’ and receiving a warning from woman 125 regarding the drinking water, Charlotte begins to wonder what has she let herself in for…

‘It only takes two things to make a woman insane: the word of a man who stands to benefit and a doctor willing to sell his say-so’

The other fellow patients offer their stories and provide much food for thought. The reasoning for their commitment varies amongst the patients and not all are insane.
The novel is a thought-provoking read about the strength of women through history to overcome adversity, mistreatment and abuse. 5*
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I enjoyed the time I spent with Greer Macallister’s Woman 99, but I’d be lying if I said the novel blew me away. I know cross-comparison isn’t entirely fair, but the things I liked about this story paralleled David Blixt’s What Girls Are Good For so closely that I found it impossible to disassociate my feelings. 

Both novels highlight the abuses suffered by mental patients in the late 1800s and I appreciated how both authors sought to emphasize the courage and fortitude required to survive such treatment. I was moved by both portraits and admire the themes each author drew from their descriptions, but it was the final chapters that ultimately shaped my ratings of each.

Both stories were inspired by Nellie Bly’s  Ten Days in a Madhouse and at the end of the day, I feel Blixt’s narrative capitalized on the impact and import of that publication. Macallister’s narrative is shaped by romantic idealism and while I appreciated those theories, I felt the spirit of Bly’s expose demanded social transparency and had difficulty finding satisfaction in a conclusion that unfolded behind closed doors.
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I thought this was an interesting read. The author definitely knows how to write a page turner. I wanted to know what happened and kept reading. For that, I was able to gloss over some plot points and language that I felt weren't plausible or historically accurate. Overall, I did enjoy reading the book.
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I rarely reach for historical fiction before the WWII era but, this story, set in a mental health institution in the late 1800's sounded fascinating. Woman 99 follows the story of two sisters. Phoebe is committed to a mental institution after a particularly embarrassing public spectacle. Her parents, pillars of the business and social community, could not abide the behavior and the potential damage to their reputation. Younger sister Charlotte grew up idolizing Phoebe and will do anything to bring her sister home, even risking going undercover in to the institution. 

While a novel, this was well researched and touched on many of the accepted mental health treatments of the time: from concerning, to bizarre, to truly barbaric. In an era where women could be committed for simply speaking out of line or reading a 'scandalous' book, it was interesting to read how far we have come and, also how we can still do better. More than that, this book was a story of sisterhood and the strength of this bond. 

Thank you to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for the complimentary eGalley of this book.
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This was an interesting read. The beginning of the story is intriguing, so it hooked me right away. But as I got to know Charlotte, the main character, I found her naïveté was borderline stupidity. The lengths she went to get to her sister in order to “save” her were right down senseless. Of course she figured it out when she’s trapped in the asylum with pretty much no way out. I thought she became a better character towards the end, maybe because of the secondary characters she befriends.  It kept me thinking that the folks at the asylum probably knew who she was, but it wasn’t as simple  as that. Overall, I’d say, it was an entertaining read.
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this was something very different from what I  usually read.  It held my interest throughtout.  The story of 2 sisters from a family with  a very controlling mother.  The stronger of  the 2 having some personality problems that end up confining her to an institution.  The weaker of  the two makes up her mind to get to the  bottom of what goes on behind the closed doors.  It just goes to show how strong the family bonds are.
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This is a rather slow-paced book that seems to have been very well researched.  I had a hard time believing Charlotte had such an easy time getting herself committed (actually, I had a hard time believing she WANTED to get herself committed!) and since that's the main premise of the book, much of it didn't ring true for me.

There are some fascinating - and horrible - details about how women were treated in this time period and in particular how they were treated in these asylums.  The story itself, though, tended to drag a bit for me.

It's a fairly interesting book, but not a page-turner for me.
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This book had a slow start in the first couple of chapters but by about a quarter of the way in I couldn't put it down.
In today's world, many of the behaviors and beliefs of the characters in the book would be absolutely laughable, but for the time period covered in the book, they held true. This book may not be for readers who are not familiar with societal traditions of that time.
With that in mind though the book was thoroughly enjoyable. It brought to life the realities that women faced when receiving mental health care (for either real or imagined conditions). Men were subjected to similar treatments at asylums, however a man could place his wife or female relative in an institution for nearly any reason at all. Ill treatment BY THEIR HUSBANDS was grounds for commitment. Studying too hard, political views, asthma, or just for being poor or having no male figure to 'care for them' and so much more were all reasons for becoming a resident at the asylum. This story highlighted the state of the mental health system in those times.
But I digress...
I found the story to be a bit unbelievable at times regarding the way some women were able to move about, but I suppose every facility would have had it's unique attributes in that way...and the story is fiction, so there's that as well.
Charlotte's testimony to the conditions of the asylum and the treatments were at times difficult to read. Patients were given very little involvement regarding their health and well being and treatments were often torturous or abusive. The truth about those actions is there without a doubt. It's excruciating to think of so many people being treated that way.
I absolutely enjoyed the relationships Charlotte and others developed and could picture the individuals described. As a whole, the book reminded me of either a movie which has been made in the past, or a story which could easily fit into a movie script. I'm not sure who I would cast though. Regardless, it was a good read.
**I received an advance reader copy of this title via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.**
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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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