Category Archives: Greer Macallister

Review: Woman 99 by Greer Macallister

Title: Woman 99 by Greer Macallister
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Historical, Suspense
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


She’s only a number now.

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.

The longer she stays, the more she realizes that many of the women of Goldengrove aren’t insane, merely inconvenient — and that her search for the truth threatens to dig up secrets that some very powerful people would do anything to keep.

A historical thriller rich in detail, deception, and revelation, Woman 99 honors the fierce women of the past, born into a world that denied them power but underestimated their strength.


Set in 1888, Woman 99 by Greer Macallister is an insightful and poignant novel which showcases that horrors of mental institutions.

Twenty year old Charlotte Smith blames herself for her parents admitting her older sister Phoebe to Goldengrove asylum.  Following in the footsteps of reporter Nellie Bly, Charlotte devises a plan to get committed to Goldengrove in order to rescue Phoebe. The pampered daughter of a wealthy shipping magnate, Charlotte is ill-prepared for what lies ahead of her, but she is surprisingly adaptive to the situation.  She is completely shocked to discover that many of the women at Goldengrove are not mentally ill. Instead these women are shuttled off to asylums mainly because they are an inconvenience to husbands and extended families. With the odds against her, can Charlotte locate Phoebe? And if does, will she find a way to rescue both herself and her sister from Goldengrove?

Charlotte is a dutiful daughter who never goes against her parents’ wishes.  She is extremely close to Phoebe and she has never felt the need to make friends. She is fully cognizant of the fact that something is wrong with Phoebe who cycles through extreme highs and troubling lows.  Charlotte does everything she can to bring her sister out her dark depression.  And when Phoebe is not depressed, Charlotte is her willing accomplice for whatever daring adventure she is embarking upon.

Charlotte’s plan to be committed to Goldengrove is successful, but she is initially completely out of her depth. The treatment of mental illnesses at the time is crude, primitive and sometimes, quite dangerous for the patients. Charlotte suffers several indignities in her search for Phoebe but she must count on the fragile friendships she forges to accomplish her goal. Danger lurks among the staff and patients, but Charlotte never gives up trying to find, then rescue, Phoebe.

Woman 99 is an interesting novel with a unique plot and interesting characters.  The storyline is engaging, but the pacing is sometimes a little slow. Charlotte is quite reflective after she is admitted to Goldengrove and she relies on her precious memories to survive her quest. Greer Macallister’s research into asylums and various treatments for mental illness during the time period is impressive. These heartbreaking details are seamlessly incorporated into the storyline. The novel’s conclusion is satisfying although a bit unexpected. A well-written story that will resonate with readers who enjoy historically accurate fiction.

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Filed under Greer Macallister, Historical, Rated B, Review, Sourcebooks Landmark, Suspense, Woman 99