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Madwoman: Nellie Bly

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Emboldened by this success she moves to New York in 1897 and tries to obtain employment on a major newspaper. However, all the male characters that Nellie comes in contact with have been extremely helpful and progressive. By this time in the novel I was championing Nelly so strongly, I almost had a placard in my hands and felt like standing on a box in the middle of Roosevelt island to tell the world what she was doing and why.

She wrote harsh but true articles and then moves to New York where she feels she can really start writing about the hard stuff.Oh, and I loved loved loved the ending so much, it felt just right considering the character’s ambitions and growth! Abusive and vicious staff, scant and poor food, freezing conditions and hideous punishments rapidly take their dehumanising toll - and even worse is threatened. Although it started a bit slow for me, sifting through Nellie’s (nicknamed Pink) childhood and family struggles, this was a fascinating and propulsive story. Nellie decides to pack her bags and head to New York, where surely people are more progressive and happy to hire a woman as a reporter.

New York turns out to be a much tougher place, where despite the obstacles, she still dreams about working for Joseph Pulitzer at his newspaper – the World. The Blackwell's Island "stunt" is her attempt to make her mark, for Nellie herself is on her uppers, almost penniless and shut out of the male sanctums of the city's papers. Treger begins her story in 1870 when Elizabeth is a child living a comfortable life in rural Pennsylvania.In 1887, young Nellie Bly sets out for New York and a career in journalism, determined to make her way as a serious reporter, whatever that may take. Looking into her eyes, Nellie saw that there was a grief only beheld in lunatic asylums, a grief so deep and black that its victim was submerged beyond reach, far more wretched than a criminal. The descriptions of what happened in the asylum were fascinating, but also absolutely horrific, and at times the book is quite painful to read.

In the process, revealing deplorable conditions, the mistreatment of patients by staff, the mental abuse that could drive sane person into insanity, hunger and cold causing distress. She is determined to succeed, and she clearly sees it doing with articles that are personal and emotional, giving intimate glimpses into working class female workers. Treger definitely gets across how awful those places were, and the horrors that were committed against people. The writing in the asylum is wonderful and captures the horrific truth of what was happening at the time.It's a moving, absorbing, and beautifully written story, and a terrifying portrait of the fate many women suffered in the late nineteenth century. Once we got into the journalism and the plot to enter the madhouse, I was back on board because of the vivid prose that was reminiscent of actual Victorian novels.

She brings the characters and places to life so clearly that you’d believe they were right in front of you. Madwoman‘ has everything I look for in historical fiction and I flew through its pages like a woman possessed. Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury UK for providing me with this arc in exchange for an honest review. After encountering difficulties in finding employment she conceives an audacious plan to expose the treatment of women in an asylum on Blackwells Island New York. A fascinating story of a can-do woman, but I could've come to every conclusion the book laid out for me without being told.Nellie feared that the newspaper would forget to release her, and the grim conditions she experienced were driving her mad. I needed to know what kind of woman would willingly get herself committed to an asylum in the nineteenth century and just what did she experience while there? D. in English at University College London, where she focused on early-twentieth-century women's writing and was awarded the West Scholarship and the Rosa Morison Scholarship "for distinguished work in the study of English Language and Literature". Her romantic feelings toward the doctor led to rumours when they met after her release, but little is known as fact. Vivid and written with compassion, Treger illumines Bly’s risky reporting that led to radical reform.

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