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The Woman They Could Not Silence

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From the author of Radium Girls comes the inspiring story of Elizabeth Packard, the woman responsible for publicly unmasking the treatment of patients in insane asylums and the wrongful incarceration of women in these institutions. The Woman They Could Not Silence is heavily researched, as any work by Kate Moore is bound to be, and detailed in such a way that the reader can easily envision the time period. The story focuses on one woman’s story, but humanizes all who had to face the stripping of rights by laws that allowed husbands and fathers to enjoy the convenience of claiming mental instability for opinionated women. The story can be long-winded at times,  but for readers of courtroom drama, this book is not lacking in that regard. A thorough history of nineteenth century definitions of insanity. 
Thank you @netgalley for this advance copy for review! Pub date 6/22/21
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The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

I thoroughly enjoyed my advance copy from Net Galley of “The Woman They Could Not Silence” by Kate Moore. If there was ever a topic that riles me more, it would be that of male subjugation of women and this story exposes a time in history whereby a woman’s voice was basically erased once she became the property of a husband. That these men could be so arrogant as to believe that all husbands would have their wife’s best interests at heart and could thereby determine their fate. Contrarily, their own threatened insecurities could easily condemn a woman to false imprisonment in a psychiatric ward. Kate Moore shows us the true grit of a determined Elizabeth Packard who against all odds was able to change the tide for many women. Her manipulative husband, Theophilus, plots and succeeds in having his wife locked up in the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois. The hospital director, a Dr. Andrew McFarland, manages to keep Elizabeth and others isolated from most communication with the outside world.  It is a tale most important to learn of not only the squalid conditions and brutal treatment of “patients” kept there, but also of their human rights and dignities that were stripped of them. 
It would not have been an easy undertaking for Ms. Moore to weave Elizabeth Packard’s personal writings within a complex unravelling of historical events, but she did so marvelously.  For me, it was a page turner and was difficult to put down. Thank you again for having had the opportunity to read this advance copy.
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"...Kate Moore’s expert research and impassioned storytelling combine to create an absolutely unputdownable account of Elizabeth’s harrowing experience. Readers will be shocked, horrified, and inspired. A veritable tour de force about how far women’s rights have come and how far we still have to go..." - full review to appear in BookList
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 Though women make up the majority of the population of the world, they do not enjoy the same rights as men.
Going back to the early  Roman period, women were passed from the father's control to the husbands' control. They were at the mercy of her husbands' whims. Women in ancient China were considered inferior and had subordinate legal status. In Imperial China, the “ THE THREE OBEDIENCES” promoted daughters to obey their fathers, wives to obey their husbands, and widows to obey their sons.
In the middle ages, the English church and cultures regarded women as weak, irrational, and vulnerable to temptation who constantly needed to be kept in check. In overall Europe during the Middle Ages, women were considered   inferior to man in legal status.
So the status in North America in the 19th century was no different. Men made the laws to their advantage. Women could not voice their opinions. The superiority of men was never questioned. Women's chief office is to bear children.
Though it was written in the constitution that freedom of religion was respected, any married woman whose views were not the same as her husbands were called rebellious and termed insanely.
If the husband was fearful of the wife having an opinion that was not his way, they were told that they had a diseased brain, had an attack of derangement, and were now different from her formal conduct. Also, another reason given is “ her lack of interest in her husband”. This was a classic case for insanity and to be sent off to the asylum.
A married woman can hold nothing, as they were nothing and nobody, had no legal identities of her own. They were just a shadow, the silent unseen shadow of her spouse, termed COVERTURE. Also in the 19th century, doctors were certain that the woman's menstrual cycle made them liable to go mad, despite no scientific evidence.
Kate Moore, tells an extraordinary story of Elizabeth Packard, wife of  Theophilus  Packard,a pastor. They were married 21 years and had 5 children. The age difference between them was 15 years. He sent her off to an asylum in June of 1860 because of her difference of thought and speaking her mind. Theophilus was jealous that she is more popular in the church because of her different thoughts.  To  Elizabeth god is love, but to  Theophilus god was a tyrant who dispensed His mercy sparingly and secretly and that one never knew if one had done enough to be saved. He devises a plan so that Elizabeth can be sent off to an asylum in Jacksonville, Illinois.
She will not go on her own will and was eventually carried to the train station.” It is for your good, I want to save your soul” so said her husband. So Elizabeth was received at the asylum at the request of Theophilus. She fought back, “I have a mind of my own, and I will think and act as I  please”. She asked Theophilus for a legal trial and let her see her children. But he refused.
From then on, Elizabeth had to prove that she is sane. She tried to convince the Hospital Superintendent of her sanity. But he was in cahoots with Theophilus. Over 3 years she attempted many discussions but to no avail.
This is the story of her struggle and her vision to show the people the condition of the asylums. She started her fight for women's rights. And to free “sisters  “ wrongfully put into asylums. Story of one woman fighting for freedom and the men who tried to make her disappear. She stood steadfast in her beliefs even with all the emotional trauma that she had to endure.
 Kate Moore has written a beautiful and extensively researched story about Elizabeth Packard. A story about pain, terror, and heartbreak she had to endure. Though she was facing unimaginable hardships, she remained strong. Her determination and perseverance got her support from the legislature to change laws for equality for women's rights. 

It was an absolute astounding and emotional read. Heartbreakingly at times.
I would recommend this book to all who follow the #metoo movement and who want to know of the incredible unacknowledged and unheard of heroes and heroines of the past.

Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for the chance to read the ARC.
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I found this book fascinating and timely.  Learning about Elizabeth Packard and how she was accused of insanity, is still a battle women have to face in current times.  Mental Health is a serious issue but so is being labeled insane because you won't do as your husband wants you to do.  So many women have had to face that battle.  Elizabeth never gave up on her battle for proving she was sane, getting legislation passed to right the wrong she faced, getting back her children, etc.  She was a force to be reckoned with.
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The time is June 1860 and Elizabeth Packard's life is about to become a nightmare. Her husband of 21 years and the father of her 6 children puts her in an insane asylum because she dares to have a mind of her own which differs from his. There is no trial to confirm or deny his allegations of her madness because she has no rights. Everything she has including the clothes on her back belongs to her husband. In 1860 married women were the sole property of their husbands as the law considered married couples to be as one person. All Elizabeth wants to is be vindicated and reunited with her children.  As we follow her story with all the adversity she endures it becomes clear that she is a  person of formidable intellect and strength of character.  Kate Moore has done a brilliant job in bringing Elizabeth Packard  and her remarkable life into the 21st century.  I was not prepared for how compelling her story would be and how it still resonates 161 years later.
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I loved this book! It was such a strong well written story. It was exactly what I needed with everything going on in the world! A mind bending escape!
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After Kate Moore's The Radium Girls, she's a must-read for me. I found the book fascinating and emotionally moving. The Woman They Could Not Silence is no different. I love how she writes about human rights and the etymology of laws that we can sometimes take for granted today. It reminds you to be attentive and speak up. It is also a testament to untold heroes. In this book, she turns her attention to Elizabeth Packard who we have to thank for better healthcare today.
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This reminded me so much of a meme that keeps floating around, a huge list of things a woman can be institutionalized for. Unfortunately that list was at one time true. And for some, it probably still is to this day. This book was so good, informative and really p*ssed me off many times. Terrific writing as well
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Great but shocking story

I loved this book. Aside from the heart-wrenching personal stories, the book constituted a good history of psychiatry. Once I started reading, I could not put the book down. The only fault I saw was the frequent foreshadowing. I had read and loved Kate Moore’s “The Radium Girls” so I had high expectations for this book and I wasn’t disappointed. I strongly recommend this book for anyone interested in the history of medicine.   
Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the advance reader copy.
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Another hit from Kate Moore. I am thoroughly enjoying the education she's giving us in regards to women who previously did not have the spotlight on them, and especially so considering the suffering they endured.

It's a sinuous story of deception, domination, depravation and, thankfully, deliverance. While some of the bombshell moments land better than others, it's not necessarily Moore's fault, I don't perceive, as she's just trying to mold this into a narrative that better ensures it's classification as a page-turner. 

The idea that Packard isn't someone I learned about in middle school or, at the very least, college, is eye-opening and unfortunate, especially considering the story presented here. The notion of how completely powerless women were (in a legal sense) during this period shouldn't surprise too much, but the mere action of observing an actual tale of it affecting lives gives it a nightmarish tinge, sending chills down my spine on several occasions. I can hardly fathom having my freedom domineered by someone who does not have my best interests at heart, but to have that same person leverage that power to remove me from my children, presumably for the rest of my life? It's no wonder why Moore chose this as her next work. 

Structured into numerous, small chapters, it makes this read (550-ish pages) manageable if it's a bedside-table situation, and allows for you to whittle through it quickly--word of warning, though: As mentioned earlier, some of these aforementioned chapters don't go quietly into the night. I might have mumbled, "I'm sorry--what?" at a "new" development a few times before feeling compelled to go on further than I had at first intended to. 

That postscript section was absolutely delicious, by the way. 

A hearty recommend from me. Undoubtedly will be one of the best books of the year in its respective category. 

Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for the advance read.
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This was such an intense read.  I had to stop at parts because I was so angry and frustrated by the treatment of this woman.  I love learning things through books and this was an eye opener.
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I liked learning about Elizabeth Packard, an early American feminist who had every odd stacked against her. Reading this made me all the more grateful to be an opinionated woman in the 21st century.

I felt the first half of the book was rather slow and monotonous, but the second half was interesting and fast-paced. You’ll surely come to realize as you read that today’s misogynist Trumpy men have always existed in some fashion, ready to silence the voice of women who dare to speak their truth and stand up for their rights, ready to sling a “she’s crazy” at any woman who dares to call them out. Slightly disheartening to realize, but also encouraging to note the resiliency of the female spirit that cannot be crushed no matter the hills we must climb. For all her successes, I was surprised I’d never heard of Packard before coming upon this book.
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This was such an important story--absolutely inspiring but also showing that there still is more work to do in terms of equality for women and the discourse around mental health. 

This tells the story of Elizabeth Packard, who in 1860 whose husband had her sent to an insane asylum because her religious views differed from his. Because she was married, she was not entitled to a trial or any proof other than her husband's word of her sanity. Elizabeth resolved to not only improving conditions in asylums, she also worked tirelessly to grant rights for women, in particular married women. 

At times this was really hard to read, seeing just how much women were disregarded, that to have an opinion at all was considered unfeminine, and therefore must be a sign of insanity. The situation was impossible for a woman whose husband wants to commit her - any protestation of sanity is taken as a sign itself of insanity. 

It was also hard to think about how 150 years later, many of these attitudes have not fundamentally changed. Women in politics are still seen as "unstable" if they show passion or excitement. 

Elizabeth Packard was incredibly inspiring in what she accomplished in the system in which she existed. She had some options to settle, and even though she knew she was taking a harder path, she wanted to truly change the system to make it better for all women.  I'd definitely recommend reading this book for a great look at how women's rights and the approach to mental health has changed!
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A husband feels threatened by his wife's intellect and forthrightness, so he has her committed to an insane asylum.  
As if that's not bad enough, while there, she becomes a patient of Dr. McFarland.  Can she trust him?  She confides in him, but again and again, she wonders......
How did I not know the story of this remarkable woman?  I asked myself many times throughout this book, "Would I have this much GRIT to keep fighting against the system that did not give women the rights they should have?"  
I really liked this book.  Not only did I learn about the amazing Elizabeth Packard, and the difference she made in the world, but it made me look at myself and ponder what I would have done in this situation.  This was a book I couldn't wait to continue reading each day, so that I could find out the end result of all Elizabeth's unnecessary pain and suffering.  
Thank you to NetGalley for the advance copy of this book!
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Date reviewed/posted: January 23, 2021
Publication date: June 22, 2021

When life for the entire galaxy and planet has turned on its end, you are continuing to #maskup and #lockdown to be in #COVID19 #socialisolation as the #secondwave is upon us, AND the worst sciatica attack in your life means you MIGHT sleep 3 hours a night,  superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today.

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.  

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸.

From the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Radium Girls comes another dark and dramatic but ultimately uplifting tale of a forgotten woman whose inspirational journey sparked lasting change for women's rights and exposed injustices that still resonate today.

1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened—by Elizabeth's intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own thoughts. So Theophilus makes a plan to put his wife back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum.

The horrific conditions inside the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, are overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland, a man who will prove to be even more dangerous to Elizabeth than her traitorous husband. But most disturbing is that Elizabeth is not the only sane woman confined to the institution. There are many rational women on her ward who tell the same story: they've been committed not because they need medical treatment, but to keep them in line—conveniently labeled "crazy" so their voices are ignored.

No one is willing to fight for their freedom and, disenfranchised both by gender and the stigma of their supposed madness, they cannot possibly fight for themselves. But Elizabeth is about to discover that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose...

Bestselling author Kate Moore brings her sparkling narrative voice to The Woman They Could Not Silence, an unputdownable story of the forgotten woman who courageously fought for her own freedom—and in so doing freed millions more. Elizabeth's refusal to be silenced and her ceaseless quest for justice not only challenged the medical science of the day, and led to a giant leap forward in human rights, it also showcased the most salutary lesson: sometimes, the greatest heroes we have are those inside ourselves.

Oh, what a book. Hubby and I are binge-watching "North and South" and Virgilia in there deserved a mental hospital during civil war times, but Elizabeth did not. Remember, these were the days when men who wanted to divorce their wives just needed to say that they were "hysterical" and they were stuck in Hootie-ha-hotels and the men remarried leaving the women in horrific situations.  (Yes, Virgilia deserved it....she was heinous!)

The book was expertly crafted and it was a fascinating read that I am going to use as our July book club pick and recommend to anyone, friends, family, etc. in search of a great read. It is utterly inhalable and should and will be enjoyed by all the women in your life and the men as well.
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To all the women who have had someone call them crazy.

4.5 stars. I stumbled across The Woman They Could Not Silence on Netgalley and immediately put in a request because I loved Kate Moore's last book, The Radium Girls. In a similar vein, her new book shines a light on an important part of women's history that has been somewhat lost to time. Moore excels at writing this kind of journalistic memoir in a way that is riveting to read and immediately connects readers to the protagonists. Despite this being a non-fiction book, it reads like fiction, bringing historical figures to light in a way that makes readers really empathize with their plight. In short, Moore knows how to ignite righteous anger at the injustices that have been, and continue to be, perpetrated against women.

This story starts in Illinois in 1860 and centers around one woman, Elizabeth Packard. After 21 years of marriage and bearing 6 children with her husband Theophilus, he has Elizabeth committed to the Illinois State Insane Asylum against her will. Her crime? Questioning Theophilus' bible study teachings in the church in which he is a pastor. Pushing back against your husband, questioning religion, and being intelligent in general were all signs of mental illness in the 1860's, and as such, Theophilus has no difficulty in getting his wife locked up.

Elizabeth immediately fights back against the claim that she is insane, but recognizing that such pleas will only make her look more insane, she does her best to maintain her dignity at the asylum and after her first meeting with the state hospital director, Dr. Andrew McFarland, with whom she develops a good relationship, she is sure her release will not be long in coming.

Though Dr. McFarland is unable to determine the root of Elizabeth's insanity, he is convinced it is there and will be revealed in time. Due to her intelligence, she is granted special privileges at the hospital. However, despite these privileges, Elizabeth soon becomes aware of the level of abuse that is being perpetrated by hospital aides within the walls of the hospital and starts stirring up trouble with the other inmates. This results in the revoking of Elizabeth's privileges and life at the hospital soon becomes very hard for her.

The rest of the novel is about Elizabeth's struggles in the asylum and her fight for freedom. Elizabeth is very intelligent and an accomplished writer, and though Dr. McFarland tries to silence her within the walls of the hospital, she is determined to record and share her story. She makes friends within the asylum and keeps a secret journal of all the abuses she witnesses. I couldn't help but compare her to Alexander Hamilton because the woman constantly wrote like she was running out of time!

However, her goals are not only to record history, but to change it. Elizabeth is strategic in going about this. She knows that raging against the machine will get you nowhere in an insane asylum and so she goes about cultivating relationships and manipulating those around her, including McFarland. I found it really interesting to read about Elizabeth's experiences and progression while at the asylum.

The whole system is completely unjust for so many reasons, but the two that stand are that, first, almost no proof is required to lock a woman up in an asylum. All Theophilus needed was 2 certificates of insanity from local doctors, which he was easily able to procure thanks to his influence as a man and pastor. Unmarried women are entitled to a trial before being shipped off to the asylum, but married women need only the desire of their husbands. As they are considered his property, they are not permitted any voice of their own. Many of the other women in the asylum were in the same situation as Elizabeth and had been sent there without any legal rights.

Second, the whole premise of what qualifies a person as insane or cured is entirely stacked against the patients. Like I said, women could basically be committed for showing any inkling of self thought or governance. Theophilus didn't like that Elizabeth was questioning things or flouting his authority, so he quickly put an end to it. But what's really enraging is that women who push back against the diagnosis of insanity only further the diagnosis. Showing any kind of indignation at anything is basically a sign of insanity. Women were only considered cured when they would finally submit to everything: the will of the abusive attendants, their doctor, and their husbands. The injustice of the system is that it literally conspires to make you insane and then only release you at the moment when your spirit is finally irreparably broken.

I say Elizabeth's progression is interesting because she somehow manages to hold on to this one thread of truth throughout the entire ordeal, the idea that 'I am not insane'. She is determined to be free and she is determined to be free under her own will, not through submission. The longer she is imprisoned, the more frenzied she becomes in her desperation to get out. She documents her experiences and ideas in a kind of manic fervour that you can't help but question if maybe she is going a little bit insane. Rather than diminish, her ideas of justice and equality of women only grow more and more ambitious to the point where she envisions women as totally equal to men and able to even hold public office, something that is quite radical in 1860 and unlikely to get you released from an insane asylum.

I don't want to give away the whole book because even though it's historical, it's still a story and I did take joy from the experience of having no idea whether Elizabeth was going to succeed and to what degree. She inspired a book to be written about her, so I knew she was going to have some level of success, but it was honestly so bleak, it was hard to imagine how a woman would ever recover from either the trauma or the stigma of such an asylum.

But Elizabeth is a fighter and I honestly can't imagine a woman with more spirit. She had a lot of influence on early American politics and it is a shame that her name is virtually unknown, even among the roll call of suffragettes. But such is the way of women's history and I love that we keep hearing about more and more women who have contributed greatly to our society but who's legacies have been little preserved.

The author added a post script at the end of the book that I really liked. The book will make obvious the impact Elizabeth's writings and efforts had on the women's rights movement, but it also highlights how these same ideas are still present in today's society. The idea of insanity is still used today to threaten, discredit, and silence women. Men have always used the excuse of 'craziness' to belittle women. The idea that fault lies only with women is still wildly believed by many men and women, even if only subconsciously. When men don't like the ideas or actions put forth by women, it's only too easy for them to dismiss them entirely with the callously thrown away phrase "she's crazy". I think we see it used most often by men to either dismiss the actions or requests or a partner or to speak of their ex. But even women use it to describe other women, particularly in scenarios where it relates to how other women interact with men (I'm thinking of reality television here).

But the idea is everywhere. Moore draws attention to its presence even at the top level of the American government when Trump once screamed at Pelosi for being wrong in the head. Powerful men still seek to silence women through the threat of insanity. For this reason, I thought this an extremely important read. A lot of the content didn't surprise me, but experiencing it through Elizabeth's eyes did help to put it into perspective. Even after all the work that Elizabeth did, Dr. McFarland is still kindly remembered by the eyes of history while Elizabeth has more or less been forgotten.

This wasn't a perfect book. I thought the writing was a little simplified in the beginning, though it got much stronger as the story went on. I also thought the story could have been shortened, some parts are a little over indulgent and I fear the length may deter some readers from this. But overall, still an excellent read and I would definitely recommend!
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I was excited to read this book becauee I found Radium Girls so moving. I love that the author is exposing the stories of these strong women that we otherwise wouldn't have heard of. This book was just too long for me. I found the subject matter interesting but the inclusion of every little detail made it incredibly long and daunting to read. I made it to about 35% in. I wanted to love it and I wanted to give my full attention to it, but I found myelf distracted time and again while attempting to read it.
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Wow!  Who knew? An incredible thoroughly-researched account of the breathtaking life of Elizabeth Packard, a woman I had not heard of until reading this book.  Around the time of the Civil War, Married and a mother, Elizabeth's husband sends her to Jacksonville Asylum against her will when she begins to form her own opinions about religion in which he is a"pastor" of a congregation. Wives had absolutely zero control as their husbands could co fine them without any trial or proof of "madness".  Conditions within the Asylum were often barbaric.  Elizabeth Packard leads an extraordinary life fighting for the rights of women and writing legislation to create laws to protect women and those.hospitalized. 

I loved the author's quotes that were placed before some chapters originating both from the book's time period along with a more current quote from a female writer.  The author also gave examples of present-day misogyny and powerful men calling women " crazy" in an effort to discount, discredit, and demean. 

I'm so grateful for the ARC of this book and thank Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review. FIVE STARS!
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