Woman 99

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

In this newly-released historical fiction, Macallister tells the story of women who, in the late 1800s in the San Francisco/Bay Area, were involuntarily sent to a mental institution coined as the "cure for the curable insane."  However, we quickly learn that the institution is wrought with abuse, torture, malnourishment and beyond forced upon women who, in many cases, were not mentally ill, but rather "inconvenient."  Having recently read "The Home For Unwanted Girls" (Joanna Goodman), I found it hard not to compare the two.  In this novel, Macallister does a wonderful job describing the environment and how life was at the time, the views of women and the expectations placed upon them. However, like other readers, I found the first half of the novel a bit slow and lacking character development.  We don't find out much about the relationship between the sisters until after Charlotte put her plan in action-that is, to be sent to the mental hospital to rescue/retrieve her sister, who had been sent there by their parents.  The second half of the book gets better and I found myself burning through the pages to find out what happens to the girls--both the sisters and the other patients Charlotte befriends, in a way.  But something about the ending didn't sit well with me. It tied up too neatly.  And I found myself wondering, "Well, how would I have wanted the book to end?" We get all the answers we want, the girls end up fine, romance wins in the end.  I don't know what other ending would have been better, but for some reason it just felt too tidy. 

On balance, it was a good read, clearly well-researched and enjoyable.  But I'm not certain it's one I'll  be recommending to my friends and fellow book club members as a "must-read" in 2019.  Joanna Goodman's "Home for Unwanted Girls" was a much more compelling read and this one pales a bit by comparison.  

A 3.5 star rating for me.  I hope to see more of what this author produces!
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Woman 99 by Greer Macallister

Charlotte Smith is a young woman who has always tried to please her parents. It is 1888 and women really don’t have a lot of rights. She is interested in a young man but when her parents affiance her to his older brother and then her sister is sent to a mental institution and she wants to get her back...well...she takes matters into her own hand and does what she has to to get into the asylum. And, what an eye opener it was. While there she seeks her sister, meets women she realizes are not really insane, sees injustices, makes some friends and then when she is ready to leave realizes it might not be as easy to do so as she thought it would be. 

This is an intriguing story with twists and turns while giving an insight into the dark days of institutionalization of “lunatics”. Once inside they had no rights or recourse and often they were dumped there by family or society who didn’t understand them or want to deal with them any more. I sometimes wish that the person giving the treatment could experience it first hand but...that is not likely going to happen. 

Did I enjoy this book? Yes
Would I read another book by this author? Yes

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Landmark for the ARC  - this is my honest review. 

4.5 Stars
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Excellent historical fiction from Greer Macallister. 

Two society born sisters, Phoebe and Charlotte, neither who are happy, despite having everything they could ever want - aside from freedom. Charlotte is engaged to be married to a man she doesn't love. Phoebe is outspoken and what is now known as bi-polar. Their parents put Phoebe away in a mental institution, and Charlotte is determined to free her. 

Taking a cue from Nelly Bly, Charlotte 'sneaks' into the asylum, but is heartbroken by what she finds. Many of the residents are not 'mad', they just don't 'fit' in their families or in 'society'. Either way, Charlotte's quest to get in was much easier than getting her, and Phoebe, out.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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As hard as I tried, I just could not get into this book. I felt that it bounced back and forth between Charlotte bring being the asylum looking for Phoebe and remembrances of times with Phoebe too quickly for me to grasp what was happening.
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Greer MacAllister does it again!  With each book, I love them more and more.  Woman 99 takes us back in time with family drama with 2 sisters, one being admitted to an asylum and the other wants to help free her. The family dynamic is so intriguing.  The research the author has done and realism and depth in the characters are top-notch which makes this book a un-put-down-able read.  You truly feel what the women are going through and as a fan of this author, historical fiction and anything asylum I found it perfect!  
This author is an instant buy or pre-order.  Her book Girl in Disguise (2017) is super fantastic and Woman 99 impresses me all the same.  This author ROCKS!  5 stars.  A highly recommended read.
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Charlotte Smith decides to get herself admitted to an asylum so she can free the older sister that stood up for her throughout her life and quite possibly could be there because of Charlotte's own doings.  With an unfiltered view of an asylum of the time, this book had a few difficult parts that made me thank goodness for the time and place that I live in!

I love when a historical fiction book makes me do some looking to find out where the truth and the fiction are.  I was so intrigued by this asylum's make up and the different wards and how things were organized, I truly wondered if such a place existed and how a doctor came to decide to organize these women this way.

The main character in this book mentions Nellie Bly a few times and this has prompted me to want to do some research and read a few books about her, have any of you read anything that centers around Nellie Bly and her story?  I am inspired to go pick up something fiction or non fiction to get a little more of Nellie Bly's story.

In the end, I enjoyed this book, but didn't love it as much as some other historical fictions reads that I have read recently.
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Sisters Charlotte and Phoebe Smith lead a life of privilege in San Francisco, but no amount of wealth can make up for the bouts of mania that Phoebe starts to experience, and which she is unable to hide from polite society. Despite her mother's best attempts to find her a husband, she proves to be unmarriageable so attention turns to Charlotte, who has developed feelings for a local young man of means. Unfortunately, in a desperate attempt to save the family name and fortune, her parents arrange a match with his brother, and when Phoebe finds out about her sisters proposed fate she tries to stand up for her. Her parents are so worried by her actions and distress that they arrange for her to be admitted to Goldengrove, an asylum where women defined as mad by the standards of 1888 society are locked away and forced to endure distressing "treatments". Worried about her sister, and inspired by the antics of journalist Nellie Bly , Charlotte decides to infiltrate the asylum as a patient, and rescue her sister, but once inside, navigating such an unfamiliar world proves to be something of a challenge, and Charlotte must join forces with other patients from backgrounds she has never encountered to overcome the dangers and bring her sister home. 
It is clear that the author has done a lot of research into the way women were treated in asylums across the US and around the world in the 1800s, conditions and treatments were barbaric, with the women reduced to mere numbers , as evoked in the title of the book and often locked away out of sight for the most frivolous or tenuous of reasons. The harshness of treatments like the water cure  make for tough reading at times, this book does not shy away from the brutality that the women endured, but far stronger is the recognition of the power and importance of female friendship when it comes to women empowering and standing up for one another. Despite a slow beginning, the book soon picks up pace, and really hits its stride when Charlotte executes her plan to get into the asylum. From that point on, the tension ratchets up , and as a reader I found myself on tenterhooks as I followed her increasingly desperate attempts to find and free her beloved sister.  While the ending may seem somewhat predictable, it is none the less satisfying, and there are enough twists and turns along the way to keep the reader on edge. 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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If you're going to read this, you have to suspend disbelief quite a bit. Charlotte basically tricks her way into an insane asylum in order to save her sister Phoebe, who admittedly is probably bipolar but who does not deserve the treatment one finds in a 19th century asylum. Who does? Charlotte and many other characters are a bit to modern to be convincing as 19th century women, but still, the story is a good one. The power of sisterhood (with both actual sisters and just other women in general) features prominently, as the women take risks to help each other and help themselves to break free of the inhumane treatment subjected on them by a system run by men who find them inconvenient - whether they are mentally ill or not. I believe a lot of the detail of asylum life is probably accurate, or at least tallies with other historical novels I've read with the setting. As if the concept isn't surprising enough, there were further plot twists that really ramped up the drama. Overall it felt incredibly cinematic, and I could easily see it being adapted for the big screen... or maybe a mini-series à la Alias Grace. Again, suspension of disbelief is definitely required, especially as things end (of course) way conveniently-ever-after, but still, it is a compelling read. I liked it quite a lot. I know I give everything 3 stars, so we can call this a high 3.
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A novel based on historical fact that reads almost like a dystopian novel.  Greer Macallister’s novel “Woman 99” is both a disturbing look at the lives of women in history through mental institutions and the lives of women – period.

This story is definitely one that simmers to a boil, with intrigue at every turn.

Phoebe Smith has been institutionalized in an asylum for women.  Her sister Charlotte, feeling she’s in there at her fault, feigns a breakdown to get in and break her out.  She is simply “Woman 99” in the asylum of Goldengrove.  As she searches for her sister, what she finds is a disturbing trend of women being thrown into the institution for being simply “inconvenient”.  Meeting several women, their stories of injustices, changes Charlotte.  But can she find her sister in this warped maze?  And will they get out alive?

Somewhere in the shadows, though, is another woman whose connection to them both is quite a twist and sends the story into overdrive in its final chapters.

Really well told.  In the beginning you’re left wondering where everything is going but soon enough Macallister starts a story that’s as good as any dystopian fiction there is, only this is all too real.
  
The lives of women is at the forefront of the story, from the way society deems them almost nothing more than property, to women discovering themselves in ways regular society would never let them.  There’s a lot of shaded areas of what women want and need, and main character Charlotte goes on a journey that leads her to see all these paths a woman’s life can take and how to be accepting of them even if the choices wouldn’t match her own.

Great historical read and for the romantics there’s a storyline with Charlotte and her hopeful beau Henry that’s hopeful and full of heart in an otherwise well-done but frightening tale.  Worth the read.

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for early access to this title due March 5th, 2019.
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One sister is sent to an asylum and the other follows to get her out. Noble cause; however, the story felt rather improbable. Sure Nellie Bly did the same thing, but she had people on the outside who knew where she was. Ms. Bly was also a lot more street smart and not as naive and pampered as the main character, Charlotte, is in this book. And once Charlotte is able to get herself committed, the story begins to drag. I realize Ms. Macallister wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the horrors of an asylum, but it was presented in short horrific bursts well padded by dreary day to day events and cliche characters like the prostitute with the heart of gold. It was all a bit too much polish to make the story feel authentic, as I expect from historical fiction.
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I haven't felt compelled to read compulsively in ages, so it was a nice surprise when it turned out Woman 99 is one of these books.
I really liked the story, the settings and the characters, especially the relationship between the two sisters. The other inmates of the asylum are interesting characters in their own rights, with their own back stories.
Charlotte has it easy a few times, but it doesn't take anything away from the enjoyment of the novel. I wouldn't call Woman 99 a thriller as advertised, but it does have a bit a mystery, as well as a couple of twists I didn't see coming.
On the historical aspect, I felt like I was getting into the time period, it was well researched but subtle, as it should be.

A recommended read!
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I read Woman 99 as a part of a Bookstagram buddy read, but it was also on my own TBR-list. The story is set in 1888 in and around San Francisco and focuses on Charlotte Smith, who gets herself committed to an insane asylum in order to rescue her sister from there. The book is a mix of historical fiction and thriller, which is a quite uncommon and unique mix.

The beginning of Woman 99 is very descriptive. A picture is painted of both the life of the sisters Charlotte and Phoebe Smith at home as well as life at the asylum, Goldengrove. Charlotte describes the conditions of the asylum as she encounters them. So it’s mostly observed from a distance and from a newcomer’s perspective. This is very interesting as you get to know more and more throughout the book. I especially found the descriptions of life within the asylum very interesting. Even though Goldengrove never actually existed, most of the things that occurred there do have their roots in actual late 1900s history, so I loved learning about that. Throughout the story many of Charlotte’s memories were interjected in the story. I was always disappointed when they came along. Although knitting together the family’s past was interesting, some parts were quite long-winded.

My favourite part about this book was the diverse and fascinating group of characters that was introduced throughout the book. Every person was different and had their own unique quirks and characteristics, and they were all very easy to relate to in some way. It almost felt a little like ‘Orange Is the New Black’. Some people were truly insane, whereas others were just an inconvenience to their families. Learning all their backstories was the best part of this book, and it once again taught me never to judge people too quickly. 

I enjoyed this book immensely, and would definitely recommend it to people who love a thrilling story in an unusual setting and an interesting period of time. Get to know the people and make yourself a part of their stories!
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Set in the late 1800s, Woman 99 by Greer Macallister follows Charlotte Smith as she willingly enters an asylum for women, Goldengrove, where her sister Phoebe has been sent, determined to help free her. While inside Goldengrove, Charlotte meets many other inmates, some of whom may actually be "madwomen", but plenty that were merely an inconvenience to the men in their lives. In order to win escape for herself and Phoebe, Charlotte must navigate the power those in charge wield, both physically and mentally.

This was such a beautiful, heartbreaking novel that painted a vivid picture of what the mental health landscape was like in that time period. as well as the way society viewed women. I enjoyed being able to see the other women in Goldengrove through Charlotte's eyes as she learned more about why some of them had been placed there, as well as her learning what it was she actually wanted in life.

I love historical fiction, but this was in a time period and setting that I haven't read as much about. I love when I feel I'm able to read a really good novel but also learn something as well.
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Exciting and entertaining story of two sisters living a privileged life in 1890s San Francisco.  Phoebe and Charlotte live in cultured society where their only real job is marrying well. 

Their neighbors, the Stillwells are well off and well respected and one of their business ventures happens to be an asylum for the “curable insane” where the brochures say it’s a peaceful place of healing and beauty...

However, all is not what it seems at Goldengrove. Charlotte makes a rash decision in a desperate effort to help save her troubled sister. 

No spoilers here but I LOVE a good “fake crazy to get on the inside” plot line. This one was so unique and creepy and believable. As usual the author Greer Macallister (The Magicians Lie) weaves an action packed story with historical elements and imaginative characters the reader really cares about. 

BRAVO 👏
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How far would you go to save one you loved?

Charlotte sacrificed her freedom to save her sister Phoebe. She thought it would be an easy venture, made at the spur of the moment. Little does she know the ride she will be taken on.

Woman 99 was an engaging story that gave vivid descriptions of life inside an asylum. With flashbacks to the past, as well as twists I didn’t anticipate this book kept my attention, piqued my curiosity as to the outcome.

There were times when the emotional energy seemed to lag, but overall Woman 99 held my interest with historical details true to the times and a learning experience as to what woman endured at the hands of men.

Greer Macallister is a new author for me and one I will continue to read more of.  

My thanks to the publisher (via Netgalley) for an advanced copy in exchange for honest review.
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I am a huge sucker for any historical novel set in San Francisco. This is a novel about two girls from an affluent family in Hob Hill. Charlotte's parents have committed her older sister, Phoebe to a women's asylum for what appears to be bipolar-like behaviour. Charlotte devises a plan to get herself committed as well to save her sister. Once she arrives at Goldengrove Charlotte is unable to find her sister. Charlotte is shocked to learn of the treatments at Goldengrove. Charlotte was a lovely main character and very easy to root for. She is strong-willed, resourceful and adaptive to her strange new environment. Greer's research is evident into this particular time period.
My only fault with this novel was the pacing. Some parts were so slow moving but things do get ramped up at the end. The ending was very predictable as well however the descriptive setting and the endearing character of Charlotte made this book highly enjoyable for me. 4 stars!
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I just finished Woman 99 by Greer Macallister, and I give it 4 stars. As soon as I heard this was a book about a woman in an asylum in Victorian Times I immediately requested it. I find this subject to be very interesting, but also, not often represented. At first I didn’t love the fact that it’s setting was in America, (I prefer my historical fiction to take place in Europe), but Macallister changed my mind about not being crazy about the setting. She writes so beautifully and her descriptive language is used artfully, but without embellishment. She also handles delicate topics gently and respectfully while still sticking to historically correct terms and views. I ended up ignoring the other book I was reading so I could dive deeper into this one. I look forward to reading more from Greer Macallister in the future. 
Trigger Warings: Poor treatment in asylums, suicide attempts and actual suicide.
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Chilling story of two sisters that end up in an insane asylum, and chronicles their struggles within.
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This book is filled with courage and strength. The women in this book are strong because they need to be. They stand up for what they believe. 

Greer has written an emotional roller coaster of a book. She has done her research so that you could know what happened to women when they became unwanted or not needed. These asylums were scary places and Greer paints the picture so well you will be drawn into Goldengrove. 

Greer also created such vivid characters. Each of them is strong in their own way. Charlotte is the leader if the pack and she is who you will root for the most. 

Woman 99 isn't the type of book I would normally pick up but it quickly became a favorite book. I read this book in a day and a half! Such a fast gripping tale. 

Thank  you Sourcebook Landmark and Greer Macallister for my copy of Woman 99. All opinions are my own.
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Woman 99 is a story based in 1888 California where society daughters were brought up in finishing schools and marriages were brokered based on family connections/advantages gained from those connections... so when a daughter resists her younger sister's marriage arrangement, she is sent to an insane asylum for women.  The younger sister, outraged and feeling guilty by this outcome, decides to be admitted into the same asylum with the intent of rescuing her sister from the institution.

Charlotte, who doesn't reveal her name upon admittance, becomes Woman 99 in the notorious Goldengrove insane asylum.  Once Charlotte is admitted, she begins to be curious about the backstories to so many 'patients' and learns that many of these women were admitted more of a matter of convenience instead of their mental health.

Once Charlotte is admitted, her short term plan to "rescue and get out" proves much more difficult than she imagines.  The story really grips you from the beginning and is hard to put down with so many brooding asylum attendants and especially the stone cold Matron...the lady in charge of the asylum...

I enjoyed Woman 99 and I would like to thank NetGalley and SourceBooks Landmark Publishing for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

Check out Woman 99 which will be released on Tuesday, March 5!  
#netgalley #woman99
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