Woman 99

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

Woman 99 is a searing and powerful look at the way mental illness was treated in late 19th century America. Set in San Francisco, Woman 99 explores what happens when Charlotte gets herself committed in order to find her sister, Phoebe (who seems to have bipolar disorder) and bring her home. What Charlotte finds is that many of the women are there because they don't fit into society's standards--women who wanted an education, or who took a lover while trapped in an unhappy marriage. Charlotte suffers through many "treatments" of the time, while realizing that as she suffers, what happens to the women on a lower socio-economic scale is much worse. 
Told in Charlotte's voice, her love for her sister comes through strongly, but there are few too many coincidences (Charlotte is allowed to take an unchaporened trip that enables her to get to the same place as her sister? Wouldn't her worried family balk at that? Not here.) for Woman 99 to be as strong as it could be. Still, this is a thoughtful and thought provoking look at the horrific ways at which women were damaged in a society that still viewed them more as property than as people.
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Charlotte feels responsible for the fact that her older sister Phoebe has been sent to Goldengrove.  Yes, Phoebe is most likely what we today call bi-polar but Charlotte is determined to get her out, especially after she discovers her parents have decided she will marry George Sidwell, older brother of her true love Henry and owner of the asylum.  Whew.  Charlotte's father owes a lot of money to the senior Sidwell; in 1880s San Francisco, this apparently allowed you to sell your daughter off.  Charlotte rather unwisely and inspired by Nellie Bly, gets herself committed to Goldengrove so that she can search for and free Phoebe.  What she finds there is much more complicated than she imagined.  Macallister has interwoven real treatments used on women during this period with their stories.  The scenes in the asylum are horrid.  How Charlotte and several other women manage to defeat the system (no spoilers but keep an eye out for Celia) is at the root of this well written book.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  This is a good reminder of what happened to some women during this period when they were problematic to their families and it's a good story of overcoming odds.  A terrific read with a good ending.
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I received an advanced copy of Woman 99 and couldn’t wait to dive in. I’m a big fan of Greer Macallister (you can read an interview we did with her over here) and found the premise for her new novel to be so intriguing.

Charlotte’s wealthy parents commit her beloved sister Phoebe to the infamous Goldengrove Asylum, and Charlotte just knows that there is more to the story than what her parents have revealed to her. In an effort to save her sister, she fakes an attempt as suicide and surrenders her real identity, as a privileged young woman, to become a nameless inmate. Within the asylum Charlotte is now known only as Woman 99.

The majority of our story is Charlotte trying to befriend people who can get her a step closer to her sister and to try to figure out a way that she can actually get to her within this asylum. She discovers that many of these women aren’t insane, but merely inconvenient- and they are able to become some of her most powerful allies as she discovers just why Phoebe has been locked away.

Macallister weaves a rich historical tapestry, but this is a slow burn at 368 pages. The first half felt very slow, but if you can hang with it, Macallister weaves a great mystery and has definitely done her research on what women would have been committed for, in this time period.

Overall, she weaves a believable and satisfying ending that I think any reader would appreciate. Once you read through the Q&A with Greer, you really discover what an undertaking the research was to really bring this fictional asylum to life. While pacing was an issue for me, I appreciate the work that went into creating this beautiful sister story.
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I'm a big historical fiction fan, especially when it introduces me to a time period or event I don't know a lot about. Woman 99 did that for me. 

Inspired by real life undercover reporter Nellie Bly, Charlotte Smith fakes insanity to be admitted to Goldengrove, a home for the "curable insane".. Her well off parents have committed her older sister Phoebe to Goldengrove because of "spells", and Charlotte feels responsible. 

Charlotte's growth as a person is fantastic to watch. The book is impeccably researched, and all treatments mentioned are appropriate to the time period. I did feel like it dragged a bit in the first half, but the second half is excellent. 3.5 stars. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Source books for the e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
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I very much enjoyed this harrowing, but ultimately satisfying, historical.  It had an excellent sense of time and place and I really liked the protagonist, Charlotte, whose growth from a timidly naive girl was both believable and satisfying.
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What would you risk to save a loved one?
Money is no option for Charlotte and Phoebe's parents and when they claim her as mentally unfit they turn her over to Goldengrove which is anything but 'Golden'.
To read the stories about the conditions and treatment in this facility was heartbreaking but to know that women were deemed to this location simply for the idea they were 'crazy' was just unfathomable.
Just imagine surrendering your own identity for a number - 'Woman 99'!
Could it be that these women weren't mad but merely an inconvenience?
What would it take to prove these truths?
Hold on tight as Charlotte is about to uncover it all and blow the top off this place!
Thank you to Greer, the publisher, NetGalley, and Aldiko for this ARC in exchange for this honest review.
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She’s been reduced to a number.

On a warm September day in San Francisco in 1888, twenty year-old Charlotte Smith walks to the edge of the pier and jumps. Why? Because, she wants to  end up in Goldengrove – the mental asylum her sister, Phoebe (bi-polar, possible schizophrenia), was sent to by their parents. She naively believes that if she informs the doctors that they are both sane, she’ll be able to convince them that a mistake has been made, and that they will be free to leave. But, Charlotte finds herself trapped in Goldengrove, as helpless and forgotten as her sister and the other woman – all of whom have been committed for anything ranging from depression and epilepsy through to adultery.

As historical fiction, this just didn’t work for me. There’s no question that it was thoroughly researched, but it read like nonfiction, focused too much on fact, and lacked imagination. For the most part, it was a bore to read – long-winded, with overly long flashbacks that took too long to get to the point.  I was expecting suspense, but aside from a couple of semi-interesting twists, and a little bit of mystery, there really wasn’t any. The treatment and suffering of women during this time period – drugged, neglected, abandoned, punished, starved – made for horrific reading, but lack of character development, made it difficult to emphasise, even when Charlotte (and others) were enduring monstrous psychological and physical torture. 

The only part that did spark some emotion within me was the bond between Charlotte and Phoebe. It was obvious Charlotte cared deeply for her older sister, had been tasked with the role of looking out for (and protecting) her from a young age, and felt Phoebe was misunderstood by her parents. This, coupled with the guilt she felt over Phoebe being committed to Goldengrove Asylum, and because Phoebe had saved her own life on many past occasions, meant Charlotte would go to any lengths to save her. And Charlotte sure was accident prone as a child – she almost drowned, was nearly trampled by a horse, was rescued from eating poisonous berries, and came close to falling off a cliff – but I suppose this was accurate for the late nineteenth century.   

From a seeking knowledge, and understanding, point-of-view, this book scored five out of five, and those who enjoy historical fiction bordering on nonfiction will find a lot to relish here, but lovers of fiction (like me) will likely be disappointed. 

I’d like to thank Netgalley, Sourcebooks – Landmark, and Greer Macallister  for the e-ARC.

US Publication Date: 5th March, 2019.

Review posted to Goodreads. Will be uploaded to Amazon on publication date.
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When Charlotte Smith's wealthy parents commit her beloved sister Phoebe to the infamous Goldengrove Asylum, Charlotte knows there's more to the story than madness. She risks everything and follows her sister inside, surrendering her real identity as a privileged young lady of San Francisco society to become a nameless inmate, Woman 99.



Thank you to net galley and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read this book
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I loved this book.  Having only brothers , I can say sibling bond is strong and unbreakable.  I still relate to Charlottes desire to save her sister.  I find the women to be brave and fearless when they had every reason to give up.  Truly loved this story, looking forward to its release and being able to discuss. Would make a great book club pick.
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Excellent historical novel about the rights of women (or lack there of) during  the late nineteenth century. Although horrifying to contemplate what could be done to women at the whim of their male guardians (fathers or husbands), this story also tells about the bonds of sisterhood and the strength of women who join together to overcome an unjust institution.
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Woman 99 is about sisters that would go to any length for each other. Centered in the 1880s Pheobe is put in the asylum. Charlotte her sister is out to find her and bring her home. Charlotte must pose as an insane woman. Though her time there she exposes many wrongs
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4.5 stars ⭐️ 

I loved this book! From start to finish I was SO into it. It had just the right amount of suspense, each and every chapter leaving me wanting more! I loved some characters, felt sympathy for others and loved to hate the rest. 

This book comes out March 5th and I highly recommend you go pick it up! 

Thank you Sourcebooks and Netgalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review!
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How far would you go and what would you risk for a loved one?
I really admired Charlotte. She was so strong and she was a great sister. I loved the women she encounters in the asylum. I can't believe the horrible reasons some of them were there! I was so in love with the ending, it was a very good conclusion to the story.
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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley. This was a great, fast-paced fiction read. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Highly recommend.
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It was okay, the language used was a little overly detailed for my taste. It was written in a beautiful way, but it took away from the story and was a little distracting. The plot itself was good as well as the characters although I would have liked the characters to have a bit more personality.
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This is plugged as a historical thriller. I agree with historical, but I found the thriller angle to be a bit misleading. The story contains detailed descriptions, and the characters are well developed. There is some predictability, especially with the ending, and some parts seemed a bit stretched/unlikley. Pace was steady throughout.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy, but I wasn't required to leave a positive review.
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Woman 99 by Greer Macallister is one of the most intriguing and enjoyable books I've read this year so far. It explores the difficult of mental issue in an era in which it was just beginning to be understand. Macallister's writing  of this poignant tale will leave you engrossed and emotionally attached to the women in the story. There is a strong plot line that moves at a steady pace and the characters are both likeable and believable. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and would wholeheartedly recommend it to and historical fiction lover.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for this ARC.
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I thought Woman 99 was a pretty good read. I am giving this book four and a half stars. I recommend it to other readers.
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Charlotte Smith and her sister Phoebe live a comfortable life on Nob Hill in San Francisco. Their mother has been working tirelessly to plan their futures, which will involve marrying men who will help solidify their social status. That is, until Phoebe’s mood swings become harder and harder to hide from the outside world. In a drastic turn of events their parents decide to commit Phoebe to an infamous asylum for the “curable insane”. Charlotte is left heart broken and reeling before she resolves to save her sister. Charlotte cracks a plan to sneak off and get her self committed to Goldengrove as anonymous “Woman 99”. Once inside her plan to save her sister unravels as she sees what truth lies behind the asylum walls. Many woman inside have simply been committed for being “inconvenient”. Whether their husbands no longer wanted them, they desired an education, or were indigent. Worse than that the barbaric treatments being used on the woman will leave you slack-jawed. As Charlotte learns how naive she has been she must change course to not only save her sister, but also save herself. 

This was an amazingly well researched historical fiction novel! I couldn’t believe the treatments being featured in this book had actually been used in the past, horrifying. I found myself googling and reading more about the history of asylums in the US which is always a sign a book has struck a cord. The bond between the two sisters was beautifully written and highlights the lengths we will go to save the people we love. I also enjoyed the strong female friendships depicted throughout this book, you’ll be rooting hard for many of these woman. Overall I would highly recommend this book! Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks landmark for the early review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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So,so interesting. I appreciate the meticulous detail Ms. McAllister takes in researching this period piece and producing a book that seamlessly takes the reader to a mental institution in the the Bay Area over a hundred years ago. All of her books are well researched and compelling- she does such a great job of educating us as to how women lived in our society in the past - and it is eye opening. Woman 99 is no different. At times harrowing and tense, this story is both a testament to the resilience and determination of women during those times and a suspenseful story that will make you stay up all night to learn the outcome. I loved it .
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