Review: The Mad Girls of New York by Maya Rodale

Description (from cover): “A gripping and compelling novel based on the true story of fearless reporter Nellie Bly, who will stop at nothing to prove that a woman’s place is on the front page.

In 1887 New York City, Nellie Bly has ambitions beyond writing for the ladies pages, but all the editors on Newspaper Row think women are too emotional, respectable and delicate to do the job. But then the New York World challenges her to an assignment she’d be mad to accept and mad to refuse: go undercover as a patient at Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum for women.

For months, rumors have been swirling about deplorable conditions at Blackwell’s but no reporter can get in–that is, until Nellie feigns insanity, gets herself committed and attempts to survive ten days in the madhouse. Once inside, Nellie befriends her fellow patients who help her uncover shocking truths about the asylum. It’s a story that promises to be explosive–but will she get out before rival reporters get the scoop?

From USA Today bestselling author Maya Rodale comes a witty, energetic and uplifting novel about a woman who defied convention to become the most famous reporter in Gilded Age New York. Perfect for fans of hidden histories about women who triumph.”

My Thoughts:

This is the beginning of a series featuring intrepid female news reporter Nellie Bly. In this book we meet Nellie and watch her struggle with trying to find a position as a newspaper writer in New York City. Nellie has recently arrived from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and she has been writing for the Pittsburgh Dispatch for several years, but she really aspires to see her name on the front page of a major newspaper. Spending several months trying to find a job on Newspaper Row and being constantly turned away because she is a woman, she is desperate to make a name for herself. When the opportunity presents itself for her to find a way to be committed to Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum for women, she takes the bull by the horns and takes on the challenge of a lifetime.

At this time, little is known about the treatment and lives of the patients confined to the asylum. No reporter has ever been allowed on the premises and no one knows what the day-to-day life is like. Nellie is determined to report to the world all of the details. She is astonished by the living conditions, how the women are treated and the lack of attention to medical care and basic every day needs. Nellie is determined to expose the asylum for what it is and to shine a light on the injustices of the women confined there. Nellie’s story sends shockwaves through New York City and beyond and she seeks to use her voice to improve the conditions for the inhabitants so that they have a chance for a better life behind the asylum’s walls.

In this book, I felt that the author did a great job of telling Nellie’s story and sticking to the real facts of her life. The author did a wonderful job of creating a voice for Nellie that resonates well with the reader. Nellie was an interesting character to read about and to see how she bucks the constraints against women in the Gilded Age. It’s hard to imagine the struggle in our age as women are heavily engaged in the work force, but this author did a great job of showcasing how Nellie Bly was responsible for helping to break the glass ceiling for women everywhere. A delightful read that I couldn’t put down. I look forward to the future installments in this series and how Nellie continues to make a name for herself throughout history.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Maya Rodale

Series: Nellie Bly #1

Publisher: Berkeley

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Pages: 334

Genre: Historical Fiction

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

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