Cover Image: The Incorrigibles

The Incorrigibles

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The Incorrigibles is a book that gives you insight into women’s rights in the late 19th century. The horrors of prison life for women in San Quentin was detailed as their names were taken away and only referred to as a number, even on their tombstones. Their sentences were more severe than the men and were not treated the same as they never had opportunities for their sentences to be shortened and retrials granted. Annie was an Irish inmate that survived the prison with the friendship and courage shown by her fellow inmates. Judy, an upcoming photographer gets involved in finding out Annie’s story. Both overcome their personal issues through the power of friends. Good research by ties both storylines together in a satisfying way. Loved the writing style as the author flips back and forth between the two timelines. #TheIncorrigibles
#MeredithJaeger #NetGalley

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A good read. I really enjoyed Annie's story more than Judy's, but I did feel as though they melded well together.

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This is historical fiction story is set in San Francisco and is told in two different time frames. In 1890, Annie Gilmurray, a recent immigrant from Ireland, is falsely accused of stealing a valuable ring from her employer and is sent to San Quentin prison to serve her sentence. Flash forward to 1972 where Judy Morelli, who has recently separated from her volatile husband and moved to San Francisco to escape him, comes across a old mug shot of Annie and becomes obsessed with learning her story. The chapters flip back and forth between Annie’s story and Judy’s story. I have to admit, I thought Annie’s story was much more interesting than Judy’s. It was obvious that the author had done a lot of research on the women’s prison in San Quentin back at the turn of the century, and what conditions were like for the women in this prison. It really was quite eye opening to me as the reader. I was not as vested in Judy’s story as I felt that it got a bit preachy especially as Judy became more and more involved in trying to save the neighborhood she had moved to from gentrification. Overall, I enjoyed the story - it kept my interest and the writing was ver good.

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There is so much to this book. It is a historical dive into 1890s San Quentin with Annie, 1970s San Francisco with Judy, and a deep look at South of Market Street neighborhood. It is also about the strength women find within themselves. I loved reading the journey the women took and what they accomplished. Heart-breaking and empowering.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton for the ARC.

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Judy in the 1970's tries to puzzle out what happened to Annie in the 1890's. The dual timeline shows the plight of poor residents in San Francisco as they try to find housing and jobs. Judy finds a prison picture of Annie and while she tries to find out what happened to her, she becomes involved in TOOR, Tenants and Owners in Opposition to Redevelopment, taking pictures of many of the residents of buildings which are being torn down by the city. Very moving story about women on their own.

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Thank you to @netgalley and @PenguinGroupDutton for this ARC. 1890 - Annie is an immigrant from Ireland, trying to make ends meet and send money back to her family by working as a housemaid. When the nephew of the owner promises himself to her with a family ring, she is quickly accused of stealing the ring. She is sentenced to one year in prison. 1972 - Judy, running from her own problems settles in San Francisco. She starts work at a photography studio when the owner shows her his latest obsession with mugshots. Annie's picture intrigues Judy and she know she won't stop until she to get to the bottom of her story. The lack of injustice to women in prison is shocking and most were considered incorrigibles (never to be reformed). I really loved this book and enjoyed every minute! #TheIncorrigibles #MeredithJaeger #PenguinGroupDutton #May2024

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I really enjoyed Annie's and Judy's story. The author did a great job with connecting the two time lines and how they related. The story caught my attention right away and kept me reading. I would highly recommend this book.

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My thanks to both NetGalley and the publisher Penguin Group Dutton for an advanced copy of this new historical novel about two women separated by time and circumstances, both finding courage they never knew existed, to help the lives of others.

Voltaire once said, "History is only the register of crimes and misfortune. Ask any woman about history and most will probably answer "Same garbage, different year". As a man who reads a lot of history it never ceases to amaze me that woman seem to be omitted, ignored, forgotten (by men of the time, and later chroniclers) or worse punished for what most men seem to get away with and no mark on their reputation. Women today are fighting the rights their mothers and grandmothers fought for, and at times won, just to see them taken away once again. The same ignorance, the same arguments are used time and time again. Though time separates our two main characters they fight for the same basic rights. Dignity. I right to be listened to. A right to be. The Incorrigibles by Meredith Jaeger is a story of two women from different eras and different circumstances, united by a photo and a want to help others, and themselves.
Annie Gilmurray is a young maid in San Francisco during the year of 1890, and is a young woman very naive about the ways of the world. As a maid Annie has been told by others don't trust the men who are around her, they can only cause trouble, even the good looking nephew of her employer. Annie is given a ring to seduce her into believing she means more to this cad than she does, and is arrested for stealing from her employer. Annie is sentenced to one year in San Quentin, the notorious prison which had at the time a woman's ward. Annie is shocked by the world she has found herself in, but gradually her fear gives in to helping some of the other inmates. Almost 100 years later aspiring photographer Jody Morelli is at a loss with the disintegration of her marriage. Jody finds a prison picture of Annie, and feels that she wants to know more about the person behind the photo. A search of knowledge that brings far more into her life than she expected.

A very interesting story dealing with points in history that really aren't discussed much. The link between the characters makes sense, which helps with the development of both. Annie is probably the more interesting character, as her life is really going from highs to lows. Jody is more relatable, even though she is 50 years in our past. Jaeger is very good at capturing both times, which had to be difficult dealing with two different eras, and both not of this time. The writing is good, and as there might be a few convenient events happening, I really liked how everything flowed and came together. In addition I learned quite abit, about life and events in both eras. I had no idea that San Quentin once had a women inmates, up until 1932. Nor did I know much about the events in San Francisco in 1972 that has probably led to the houseing crisis today. I love learning new things in books, and when there is a good story to go with it, I am a happy reader. As many others will be.

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I was a little concerned when I noticed the "just average" reviews on NetGalley, but I'm happy I read it anyway. I've never read historical fiction quite like this. This focused on two women nearly a century apart: one a prisoner, one a photographer. A mugshot piqued the interest of an aspiring photographer who was attempting to piece her life back together, and through this interest, she learned a lot about the treatment of women prisoners during that time. Female camaraderie and likenesses are formed and discovered.

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An interesting story about women prisioners in San Quentinin the 1800's.. I found that part of the story fascinating; however,the story line involving the photographer in the later time did not keep my interest. How women prisoners were treated then was horrible and the amount of time served as compared to men who had committed far worse crimes was even worse. A quick read that will satisfy some readers.

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This is pretty average historical fiction. I found a lot of repetition in the musings, especially if the present day character, Judy. Annie's story was far more interesting but even that felt a bit contrived. I did appreciate learning more about life as a female prisoner in San Quentin. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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