Cover Image: The Woman They Could Not Silence

The Woman They Could Not Silence

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Member Reviews

How on earth had I had never heard of any of this? I take pride in my true crime and history knowledge but clearly, I've been reading the wrong books, watching the wrong things, and taking the wrong classes. Excellent book. Super happy I read it.
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A million thanks to Kate Moore for bringing Elizabeth’s story to life. As with Lilac Girls, I was awed by Kate’s extensive research and compelling storytelling. Kate points out in her Author Note that this is a nonfiction book and that everything in it is based on careful historical research. Every line of dialogue comes from a memoir, letter, trial transcript or some other record made by someone who was present at the time. It is an incredible story.

Elizabeth was a remarkable person. Her husband Theophilus felt so threatened by Elizabeth’s independent thinking and philosophy that he conspired to have her committed, tearing her away from her beloved children. He could not cope with his independent, outspoken wife who was gaining influence so began a conspiracy theory of derangement. At the time, the law stated that women could be put in an asylum simply based on the request of the husband.

As I turned the pages, I became so angry about how women were treated, their intelligence stifled, the ease in which husbands had the ability to force a woman to be locked up in an asylum based on nonsense like simply reading a novel, having sunstroke, or domestic troubles. There is a historical chart Moore includes that lists these numerous causes of insanity. The list is insanity!! 

The misinformation of science of the times was staggering, quackery rampant. For example, it was once believed that a woman’s insanity sprang from the position of her uterus. Moore has meticulously researched historical records. Actual documents and photos are included and as I looked at a photo of the behemoth-sized Illinois State Hospital in the early 1860’s, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sadness for the many thousands of persons placed there based on fraudulent and idiotic diagnoses of mental illness. I received a complimentary copy of this book.
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The Woman They Could Not Silence, I think this title says it all about this book.  Her husband, the doctor in the asylum, the staff and so many others tried but Elizabeth Packard never quits in telling the truth about the unwarranted testimony to commit Elizabeth to the Illinois State Asylum and the lies and brutal treatment by the Dr. McFarland to keep her there so the “insane” tendencies could be exhibited, even though they never were.
Elizabeth only wanted to be able to say her own beliefs, and live her life as a knowledgeable woman but was condemned by men ti the asylum without hope of getting out even though no symptoms of insanity were evident other than she did t want to live with her abusive husband. Even while being unfairly committed, she cared for others to show compassion to those that were in the same position she was in.
Everyone should read this book and be brave enough to admit the horrors that were inflicted on people without any evidence. It reads like a fiction novel but is brutally honest about the actual conditions using the actual documented words of  Elizabeth. This is another great read by Kate Moore on the true and real life of Elizabeth Packard. 
#Netgalley #Sourcebooks
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The story of Elizabeth Packard is a fascinating and infuriating one. It was incredibly easy for a man to put his wife or daughter in an asylum with no evidence of any mental problems needed. This details her fight to be released, and her equality work afterwards as well as her fight to have access to her own children. 
I did find it a little long in places and some points felt like they were made more often than was needed - the story makes the points on it's own.
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Impeccably researched and a highly fascinating, of frustrating, read. Will be recommending to nonfiction readers as well as fans of historical fiction.
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The author of Radium Girls does not disappoint with her newest addition.   Kate Moore is a captivating storyteller. A riveting historical fiction that focuses on women's rights in the late 1800s.  A harrowing portrait of a woman placed in an asylum against her will. Wonderfully written and well researched.
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The Woman They Could Not Silence is the latest release from Kate Moore, whose previous book, The Radium Girls is one of the best non-fiction books I have read in several years, and one that is still as fresh in my memory as when I first read it. That was a high standard to match and I was equally excited and apprehensive to crack open this new book and see where it would take me. I am so pleased to report that I was not disappointed, once again the author has given us a compelling story that will shock and anger the reader , but will absolutely have them turning the page desperately to find out what happens next. 
The book tells the story of Elizabeth Packard, a woman who was incarcerated in an Asylum for the Insane at the behest of her husband , and her desperate and protracted struggles to free herself, prove her sanity and reunite with her children. Beginning in 1860 , through Elizabeth's tragic story, the author illustrates the desperate plight of so many women, regarded as little more than their husband's property, with no legal rights of their own. Elizabeth was no ordinary woman however, she was intelligent, determined and charming, and used all of these traits in her battles against her husband and the doctor in charge of the Illinois State Hospital , Dr Andrew McFarland. The author really brings her to life on the page, and her stories and struggles are so compelling that I found it difficult to put the book down. Although I had never heard of Elizabeth Packard before, versions of her story are familiar in fiction, thought I have to say I found her story more chilling , and ultimately more inspiring, than any fiction I have encountered.  I was impressed by the amount of research the author had put into the book, it was fortunate that she had no shortage of primary documentation to work with given Mrs Packard's published works and many letters , as well as trial records and documentation of course. Although it is clear that the research is meticulous , it never impedes the author in her efforts to tell the story which flows in an impressively engaging manner. 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own,
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I read this having loved The Radium Girls, and this did not disappoint.
Instead of telling the story of a group of women, The Woman They Could Not Silence focuses in on one woman, Mrs Elizabeth Packard and her fight for women’s rights. What begins as her struggle to free herself from her abusive husbands control and the asylum he has her committed to transforms into a battle to save all the women she discovers being held captive in the same situation.
The choice of topic was great on multiple fronts. First, Mrs Packard was a fascinating woman, who lived an extraordinary life and her story makes for an incredible reading experience. Second, Mrs Packard was an avid journaller and letter writer, as were many of the people who are involved in her story so there is a lot of primary documentation to work with. Third, her story is still highly relevant and moving for the modern reader.
This was a deeply emotional and thought provoking read, but the writing style kept me engaged and wanting to read more.
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It’s always hard rating nonfiction books, especially when they’re based on someone’s life. So this isn’t for the story, but the writing. I love how the author wrote at the beginning how she was “inspired” to write a story during the #metoo movement. We need more stories that encourage feminism and equality! The writing was superb.
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There are some books that make you shocked at what you're reading yet it educates you to know your journey and the roads that have been paved and that's what The Woman they could not silence did. I got to learn about Elizabeth Packard's time and the injustice suffered by women for thinking. 
This is a book I'd recommend to everyone and anyone looking for something deep to read
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The idea that a husband could put his wife away in an insane asylum makes many of go "What!!??"  but that was the way it was in the 1800s. Women were chattel, with no rights and no property and usually, no money of their own. Husbands could do whatever they darn well pleased, and many of them did just that. Get the little wifey out of the way, and then get on with their lives. 

Elizabeth Packard was a free-thinker, well-educated, and seen as unstable by her husband, who determined to lock her away. He did just that, leaving him with six children to raise - but of course, he hired a sweet, young housekeeper to care for the family. The oldest daughter who was 11, was forced to take on the task of caring for the younger children and doing most of the cooking and housework.  Packard felt quite sure her stay at the asylum would be short and she would go back to her family. Years passed and she remained locked away. She wrote journal entries, learning to hide them wherever she could, to protect them and make sure those records would remain to tell her story. 

The chapters are short, the book is lengthy. I found myself reading a chapter or two each day, and then thinking my way through it. The ordeal that Packard went through will stay with the reader for some time.
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What a great read! I always knew the name Elizabeth Packard, but was not familiar with her whole story.  This book gives a full account of exactly what she did for women’s rights.  Definitely recommend this read! 
The book also includes questions for book clubs , an interview with the author, and a very in-depth bibliography and footnotes. 
* I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from SOURCEBOOKS and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review
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This was a great book. I learned so much about psychiatric hospitals and women's rights in the 1860s. Elizabeth played an important role in getting many laws changed and created, in not just her home state of Illinois but other states as well.
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Written in a similar style as the author’s earlier, Radium Girls, this nonfiction book tells the story of a woman held against her will in an asylum. The subject of many literary storylines, this book gives a true account.
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I have mixed feelings with this book. As a big fan of Radium Girls, I was thrilled by the synopsis of this book. A women’s history book about social and gender injustice? Here for it. The beginning quarter of the book moved slowly, setting the tone and context. While understandable, it took a while to get into it, and specifically all the footnotes that appear frequently. As the book progressed, I really enjoyed the social contextualization and informative history of the time period. Elizabeth’s story is heartbreaking yet riveting. Her incredible strength is an driving force throughout the book and she radiates clear resilience.

The book could have been edited more. As the book went on there was a lot of information that fell flat or mundane. I think overall it didn’t need to be 500 or so pages that it was. This didn’t hold me engrossed page to page like Radium Girls did. but overall it was enjoyable and education read on a topic we assume happened throughout history but never known in depth.
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As a huge fan of The Radium Girls by Kate Moore, I was stoked to read an ARC of The Woman They Could Not Silence by the same author, from NetGalley! I wondered whether or not Moore would be able to deliver again, after writing such a profoundly moving debut book, and I’m ecstatic to say that my worries were completely unfounded. Kate Moore’s second book managed to grab my heart and tug it every which way, while captivating my thoughts, and sometimes literally stealing my breath out of shock!

Whenever I read a nonfiction book about a specific person in history, I often ask myself, “Why this person?” The answer to this question was clear from the beginning of The Woman They Could Not Silence because Elizabeth Packard’s story needed to be told, and I honestly can’t think of a better person to tell it than Kate Moore. Moore tells Packard’s story in such a vivid and personal way that, as a reader, it felt as though I not only knew Moore, but also Packard. To seamlessly combine Packard’s own words with Moore’s prowess as an author is an outstanding feat of talent!

This moving book follows Elizabeth Packard throughout her adult life, as she is unjustly committed to an asylum after expressing her own opinion. Moore shines a light on the way Elizabeth refused to stand by as a victim of her circumstances, and instead chose to live a life advocating not only for her personal rights, but for the rights of all women and mentally ill people. The objective story of Elizabeth Packard’s life by itself would be astounding, but Kate Moore gives details and depth to this story that make it feel genuine, urgent, and heart-shattering.

There were so many moving parts to this story, it was clear that a lot of research and skill were necessary to transform it into the masterpiece that it is. Kate Moore painted a lucid image of Elizabeth Packard’s life, including aspects of the time she lived in, relating to the law, mental health, family dynamics, small town life, the media, and more. These details give the reader a 360° view of the specifics in Elizabeth’s life. So many of these aspects are dramatically different today than they were in Elizabeth’s lifetime, but Moore bridges the gap by giving the reader a complete conception of life for a woman in the 1800s.

While I could ramble on about so many fantastic aspects of this book, the part that stirred my heart the most was the beautiful way that Kate Moore conveyed Elizabeth Packard’s sense of sisterhood. Reading about the determination Elizabeth felt to help her fellow women imprisoned in asylums was almost indescribable. Her willingness to fight for others and her unwavering love for women facing struggles she herself faced, brought me to tears. This story most definitely could have been told without including Elizabeth Packard’s feelings of sisterhood toward other women in asylums, but it would have been desperately incomplete. The way Moore incorporated this aspect of the book spoke to that sisterhood within me, as I think it will speak to the sense of sisterhood inside women everywhere!
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I received this from

A fictionalized account of Elizabeth Packard. We hear some of her thoughts as they are spoken through her letters and journals. Incredible story.

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Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks for sharing this upcoming fiction title by the author of The Radium Girls. Elizabeth Packer, the woman they could not silence, was new to me. She obviously never got the lasting name recognition of an Elizabeth Cady Stanton but her actions were equally important. Unjustifiably sent to and kept at an asylum through the complicity and duplicitousness of her husband and the asylum administrator, Packer refused to give in to despair or censor her belief in her intelligence and sanity. She fought for agency for herself and both women and mental health patients and was ultimately successful. Like The Radium Girls, the tale is horrific in parts and enraging all the way through. I highly recommend this for anyone who likes nonfiction, anyone who is interested in women’s history, or who enjoyed The Radium Girls.
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Kate Moore has become a favorite author.  This book, like Radium Girls, is an eye opener.  Before the start of the Civil War, Elizabeth Packard is placed in an insane asylum by her husband.  Why?  Because he could.  Married women had no rights.  This is her story. She fought for years to get out.  Then, she fought to remove the diagnosis of insanity from her name.  She wrote books about what was going on, interviewed others for their stories and fought against the doctor who perpetuated the treatment.  She got laws changed. The sad part is that over 150 years later women are still being subjected to being called crazy for speaking their minds.  Women can still be unfairly committed by powerful men.  
I want to thank Kate Moore, Source books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.
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The Woman They Could Not Silence should be required reading!  I had never heard of Elizabeth Packard before I read this new book by Kate Moore (author of The Radium Girls), and I would venture to guess that most people haven't either.  Elizabeth was an outspoken activist in the 1800s who helped pass legislation for equal rights for women and humane treatment for those suffering with mental illness.  She was spurred on by the cruel treatment she experienced at the hands of those who should have protected her.  While this book is extremely well-researched nonfiction, it reads as fiction.  I couldn't stop turning the pages to see what would happen next.  In many ways we have improved as a society since these events have taken place.  Unfortunately, we still have a good deal of work to in some areas.  Elizabeth's story is long overdue and she deserves to be recognized for all of her hard work.  If you are a woman alive today, your life is exponentially better because of Elizabeth Packard!  The Woman They Could Not Silence will be out on June 22, 2021 and you can preorder it now.
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