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The Mad Girls of New York

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Fearless reporter Nellie Bly will stop at nothing to chase down stories that expose injustices against women—even if it comes at the risk of her own life and freedom—in this exciting novel inspired by the true story of one remarkable woman. In 1887 New York City, Nellie Bly has ambitions beyond writing for the ladies pages, but all the editors on Newspaper Row think women a Fearless reporter Nellie Bly will stop at nothing to chase down stories that expose injustices against women—even if it comes at the risk of her own life and freedom—in this exciting novel inspired by the true story of one remarkable woman. 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 committed and attempts to survive ten days in the madhouse. Inside, she discovers horrors beyond comprehension. It's an investigation that could make her career—if she can get out to tell it before two rival reporters scoop her story. From USA Today bestselling author Maya Rodale comes a rollicking historical adventure series about the outrageous intrigues and bold flirtations of the most famous female reporter—and a groundbreaking rebel—of New York City’s Gilded Age.


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Fearless reporter Nellie Bly will stop at nothing to chase down stories that expose injustices against women—even if it comes at the risk of her own life and freedom—in this exciting novel inspired by the true story of one remarkable woman. In 1887 New York City, Nellie Bly has ambitions beyond writing for the ladies pages, but all the editors on Newspaper Row think women a Fearless reporter Nellie Bly will stop at nothing to chase down stories that expose injustices against women—even if it comes at the risk of her own life and freedom—in this exciting novel inspired by the true story of one remarkable woman. 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 committed and attempts to survive ten days in the madhouse. Inside, she discovers horrors beyond comprehension. It's an investigation that could make her career—if she can get out to tell it before two rival reporters scoop her story. From USA Today bestselling author Maya Rodale comes a rollicking historical adventure series about the outrageous intrigues and bold flirtations of the most famous female reporter—and a groundbreaking rebel—of New York City’s Gilded Age.

30 review for The Mad Girls of New York

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    God save Nellie from the ladies’ pages. If a woman was lucky enough to get a job working for a paper—which spared her from working in a factory, or as a domestic or a wife (shudder)—she would have to spend her days writing about household hints and recipes, garden shows and charity luncheons. It was mind-numbingly tedious and she wanted to avoid it at all costs. It was one reason why she had left Pittsburgh. -------------------------------------- There is nothing worse than being told that God save Nellie from the ladies’ pages. If a woman was lucky enough to get a job working for a paper—which spared her from working in a factory, or as a domestic or a wife (shudder)—she would have to spend her days writing about household hints and recipes, garden shows and charity luncheons. It was mind-numbingly tedious and she wanted to avoid it at all costs. It was one reason why she had left Pittsburgh. -------------------------------------- There is nothing worse than being told that you don’t know your own mind or body. If you aren’t mad when you go in, chances are you will be by the time you come out. When twenty-three-year-old Nellie Bly headed to New York City in 1887, she left a message for her boss at The Pittsburgh Gazette. I’m off for New York. Look out for me. —Nellie Bly Good advice. It was no easy task for Elizabeth (Elly) Jane Cochrane. Women in journalism were relegated to the “ladies’ page” when they were hired at all. And often had to use pen names to get their work into print. Persistence paid off, though, and Cochrane finally got a gig with The New York World, by promising to go undercover at the New York City Asylum for the Insane on Blackwell’s Island. (called Roosevelt Island today). The notorious institution had already been the subject of multiple journalistic examinations. But it was a tough place to get into, and, as it had changed from a co-ed institution to a women’s asylum in 1872, it would take a female to be able to get inside, one of the downsides to journalism being such a boys’ club. But Nellie’s self-confidence, and courage, knew no bounds, so she dove right in. Maya Rodale - image from Open Shelf – photo by Elsa Ngan The Mad Girls of New York is a novelization of Bly’s actual early adventures in NYC. Some of the characters are taken from Bly’s seminal work, Ten Days in an Asylum, which was comprised of and expanded from the articles she had written for the New York World, a series that made her reputation. She persuaded those who needed persuading that she was mad, in order to be institutionalized as a patient. It was surprisingly easy. Once in, she experienced the horrors inflicted on the patients, although inmates would have been more accurate. The asylum was a physically cold place, and the residents were provided with painfully inadequate clothing and covers. The food was unspeakable, often insect-ridden, the physical accommodations spartan, the doctors dismissive, the nurses abusive, and the cleanliness regimen was cruel. It did not help that some of the help was recruited from the prison that was also on the island. Nellie Bly - image from the Irish Times We meet several groups of characters. The journalism pack leads off. This includes the editors she interviews during a project on why the papers do not hire women. There is a fair bit of LOL to be had in this as she leaves them spinning and sputtering in their own contradictions. There are the other women journalists with whom she engages, a club of sorts, who help each other out, getting together in an establishment, The Ordinary, that serves women only. Such institutions did exist at the time. She has a competition going with a male reporter, Sam Colton, from Chicago. There is also a simmering attraction between the two, but it is not romancy enough to intrude into the story too much, thankfully. There is also a flirtation with the hunky, single mayor. When you learn that there was in fact a hot bachelor mayor of New York City named Hugh Grant, you must include it in your novel. - from Rodale’s Twitter feed Rodale has produced numerous romance novels, (22 by my count, plus some novellas, a children‘s book and a couple of non-fics) so it would have been a shock if there were not some sparks flying in this tale. But if you are hoping for ignition into conflagration, you will have to check out her considerable romance work instead. The New York City Asylum for the Insane - image from Wikipedia – cheery-looking, no? Then there are the patients. Anne is in need of care, but cannot afford decent treatment at a private institution. The Princess has a regal bearing but will only say three words, Rose, Daisy, and Violet, over and over. Tillie has a nervous condition, truly needs some rest, some peace and quiet, in a warm place, but her friends dumped her off at Bellevue (with friends like that…). Prayer Girl, who pleads with god to kill her ASAP, somehow never takes the initiative herself. Women are committed to this place for a variety of reasons, few of them good. Many devolve to a broad category of their being inconvenient, something Martha Mitchell might recognize. Then there is Mrs Grady, the Nurse Ratched of this enterprise, a cruel overseer, super control freak, eager to inflict pain and punishment and never willing to hear any of the real concerns of her charges. Toss in a few cruel cops and attendants, a clueless doctor, and another who at least shows some bits of humanity. Newspaper Row in Lower Manhattan. That is City Hall in the foreground on the left. The domed building to the east of City Hall is the New York World Building. The Brooklyn Bridge had not yet been built when this shot was taken, but if it had, it would appear to the north (left) of the World Bldg) – image from Stuff Nobody Cares About Rodale’s focus is on how women were treated, not just in this horrid institution, but in all institutions of the wider world, using her story-telling skills to show us how women were regarded as a lesser life form, in politics, in journalism, in finance, in the overall world of work, well…paid work. Slaving at home for hubby and progeny was still just fine and dandy. She shows the struggles that smart, driven women had to endure in order to access the same level of opportunity and respect as men, just to be able to cover hard news. Bly was one of a group of women called “Girl Stunt Reporters,” daring women journalists who put themselves in peril in order to delve into many of the social wrongs of the late 19th century. Hugh J. Grant two-term NYC Mayor – image from Wikipedia Rodale spices up the story, as if it needed additional condiments, with a mystery about a high-society spouse gone strangely missing, with the widower chomping at the bit to wed a younger, richer, woman. She incorporates actual historical events and people into the tale, sometimes with name changes, sometimes with tweaking of timelines. Some personages retain their names, including the aforementioned mayor, Hugh Grant, (who did not actually become mayor until 1889, two years after the events of this novel) Hetty Green (The Witch of Wall Street), Harriet Hubbard Ayer, a writer of articles about beauty and health for the New York World, and others. Despite the harshness of the conditions Bly, and now Rodale, reveal, there is no graphic violence or sexual behavior in The Mad Girls of New York. This helps make it perfectly suitable for younger readers, particularly girls, who may not know about Nellie, and what a pioneer she was. It is a very fluid, quick read. Hetty Green – The Witch of Wall Street - image from wiki The book is listed as A Nellie Bly Novel #1, so we can presume there are more in the works. I do not have any inside intel on this, but I imagine that Nellie’s around-the-world-in-80-days challenge (she did it in 72) will be among the upcomings. Something to look forward to. Nellie’s story is a remarkable one. Rodale has done a very nice job of letting modern readers in on what Nellie faced as a gutsy, newbie reporter in New York, and what she accomplished, at least in the short term, encouraging us to learn more about this brilliant, dogged, remarkable woman. You’d have to be crazy to pass this one by. The madhouse had been horrible, but this part—writing it all down with the promise of seeing the atrocities in print, made it feel worthwhile. When she thought of the public reading her words and knowing about the suffering that happened at Blackwell’s, Nellie felt shivers. Do stunts, Marian had flippantly suggested. But Nellie had found her life’s work. Review posted – May 6, 2022 Publication date – April 26, 2022 I received an ARE of The Mad Girls of New York from Berkley in return for a fair review. Thanks, folks, and thanks to NetGalley for facilitating. Can I get a warmer blanket, please? This review has been, or soon will be, cross-posted on my site, Coot’s Reviews. Stop by and say Hi! =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, Instagram, and Twitter pages Interview -----Wine, Women and Words - Nerding out about Nellie with Maya Rodale with Michelle Leivas and Diana Giovinazzo Item of Interest from the author -----Lithub - The Real-Life Heroines of an Outrageous Era: A Gilded Age Reading ListMy obsession with the Gilded Age began with romance novels—I wanted to set a series in old New York in the world of Mrs. Astor’s ballroom and dollar Princesses, which felt like an updated version of the Regency Era. But in researching the time period I discovered that the best stories weren’t just uptown in Fifth Avenue mansions—they were everywhere. I also discovered that the Gilded Age was a golden age for independent, ambitious, boundary breaking real life heroines. One of my favorites is Nellie Bly…She was the first and most daring of the stunt girl reporters, who found fame and success by going undercover to report stories that detailed women’s experiences as factory girls, or getting abortions, or learning ballet.Items of Interest -----Wiki on Nellie Bly -----Wiki on Hugh J. Grant - NYC’s 88th mayor -----Wiki on Hetty Green – “The Witch of Wall Street” - Marian goes to see her to get intel on Jay Wallace in chapter 24 -----Wiki on - Harriet Ayer - Nellie’s mentor in the book -----Library of Congress - Research Guide for Nellie Bly -----Gutenberg - Ten Days in a Madhouse - the full text -----Wiki on The Martha Mitchell effect -----Smithsonian - These Women Reporters Went Undercover to Get the Most Important Scoops of Their Day – an outstanding piece by Kim Todd, author of Sensational: The Hidden History of America’s “Girl Stunt Reporters -----Wiki on The Ladies Ordinary - a women-only establishment where Nellie meets with other reporters -----For a real blow to your consciousness, check out this site, for Octagon NYC. This part of the original asylum has been converted, as all things in NYC are, into luxury housing. The prices are insane. (a 540 sq ft studio is $3,028 a month, a 3 BR, 1,316 sq ft goes for $7500 a month) -----The American Journal of Psychiatry has a brief, but informative, piece - The Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island and the New York Press Reminds Me Of -----Leslie Parry’s 2015 novel, Church of Marvels, includes a look at Blackwell’s when one of the characters spends some time inside. -----One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - the film

  2. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    The Mad Girls of New York by Maya Rodale is a 2022 Berkley publication. This is a fictionalized account of Nellie Bly, who carved out a career for herself as a journalist despite the odds against her. Her bravery in getting herself admitted into an ‘insane asylum’ to report on the conditions put her on the map, and launched her successful career in a very male dominated career. She survived ten days in the asylum and proved the skeptics her critics wrong. Rodale has done a fabulous job of telli The Mad Girls of New York by Maya Rodale is a 2022 Berkley publication. This is a fictionalized account of Nellie Bly, who carved out a career for herself as a journalist despite the odds against her. Her bravery in getting herself admitted into an ‘insane asylum’ to report on the conditions put her on the map, and launched her successful career in a very male dominated career. She survived ten days in the asylum and proved the skeptics her critics wrong. Rodale has done a fabulous job of telling Bly’s story, as well as incorporating a few other trailblazers into the story. The book also details another scandalous story, based on facts, that Bly’s only female rival covered, which was also quite a sensational headline grabber. The ‘mad girls’, many of whom were not insane, just ‘inconvenient’, poor or sick, with no options, are well drawn and sympathetic. Their mistreatment is appalling and having their stories told was groundbreaking investigative journalism. Rodale brings their voices to life, while chronicling the tenacity of those who helped open doors for women, proving that yes, they can get the story… and so much more!! 4 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    Nellie Bly is a fascinating historical figure. The only book I had read about Nellie before this one was: Nellie vs. Elizabeth: Two Daredevil Journalists' Breakneck Race Around the World, a picture book about the competition between Nellie and Elizabeth Bisland to circle the globe. This is the first in a series of historical fiction featuring Nellie and tells the story of her ten-day stay at Blackwell Island. Reading about her experience is maddening and heartbreaking. For some, committing a wom Nellie Bly is a fascinating historical figure. The only book I had read about Nellie before this one was: Nellie vs. Elizabeth: Two Daredevil Journalists' Breakneck Race Around the World, a picture book about the competition between Nellie and Elizabeth Bisland to circle the globe. This is the first in a series of historical fiction featuring Nellie and tells the story of her ten-day stay at Blackwell Island. Reading about her experience is maddening and heartbreaking. For some, committing a woman to such a place was a quick fix. Nellie's front page articles exposed some deplorable conditions and even helped free some women. A compelling read and I hope the next one covers the race around the world. Thank you to Berkley Publishing and Edelweiss+ for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    This tale of Nellie Bly breaking into New York Journalism starts off as energetic as the woman herself. In fact, in the beginning, she reminded me of a twenty something year old Nancy Drew based in the 1880s. Intrepid and plucky, if you will. After years in Pittsburgh and Mexico, Nellie has come to New York. But the only way to land a job is to propose a stunt so outrageous it might cost her her life. She is willing to get herself committed to Blackwell’s Island, the notorious insane asylum for This tale of Nellie Bly breaking into New York Journalism starts off as energetic as the woman herself. In fact, in the beginning, she reminded me of a twenty something year old Nancy Drew based in the 1880s. Intrepid and plucky, if you will. After years in Pittsburgh and Mexico, Nellie has come to New York. But the only way to land a job is to propose a stunt so outrageous it might cost her her life. She is willing to get herself committed to Blackwell’s Island, the notorious insane asylum for women. Rodale employs a rival reporter, a man, who tries to expose Nelly’s scam. For such an interesting topic, I found the book dragged at times. Rodale does a decent job of giving us a real sense of place once Nellie gets to Balckwell’s. She uses Nellie’s thoughts to explore the ways women were kept subdued, both in and outside the asylum. Uppity women are not to be tolerated, they are to be controlled. And, of course, there’s the Catch 22 of “insisting on sanity was the first sign of insanity.” But what should have been an intense story lacked a sense of suspense. The character of Nelly is nicely fleshed out, while other characters feel a bit two dimensional, probably as she was real and they were mostly fictional. These characters are for the most part based on real people, although drawn from other times and circumstances. There’s a side story about a society marriage between Jay Wallace and Louisa Newbold being covered by another female reporter. This subplot is finally woven in at the end. My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing for an advance copy of this book. I did find it infuriating that the title speaks of “girls” which diminishes the idea that the book is about WOMEN.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mallory

    I will admit I had not heard of Nellie Bly before receiving this book from the publisher via NetGalley for my honest review. I am so glad I know a little about her as this book is based on a real story about a real woman who was determined to be a journalist despite the views of the time. It amazes me that she was so passionate she was willing to get herself committed to a dangerous insane asylum meant to lock up difficult women forever. I liked the story a lot, but there were moments that it dr I will admit I had not heard of Nellie Bly before receiving this book from the publisher via NetGalley for my honest review. I am so glad I know a little about her as this book is based on a real story about a real woman who was determined to be a journalist despite the views of the time. It amazes me that she was so passionate she was willing to get herself committed to a dangerous insane asylum meant to lock up difficult women forever. I liked the story a lot, but there were moments that it dragged a little. The characters were compelling and I was very invested in what happened to them. I didn’t need the hints of romance and was glad they weren’t more than hints. This story is about women’s rights and while we have a long way to go just how far we have come. I am encouraged this book is described as book one in a series about Nellie Bly because I would love to read about more of her adventures.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    The Mad Girls of New York was a fascinatingly fun read. Based on the true investigative journalism of Nellie Bly, this book was hard to put down. Nellie's reporting style was groundbreaking at the time and her story has continued to be an inspiration. The Mad Girls of New York was a fascinatingly fun read. Based on the true investigative journalism of Nellie Bly, this book was hard to put down. Nellie's reporting style was groundbreaking at the time and her story has continued to be an inspiration.

  7. 5 out of 5

    PlotTrysts

    Are you interested in Gilded Age New York, investigative journalism, or historical fiction "based on a true story"? We are, and this book was perfect for us. Nellie Bly is the mother of investigative journalism who burst onto the scene in 1880s New York when she published an expose of Blackwell Island Insane Asylum. How did she gain access? She got herself committed - and it wasn't all that difficult, either. The Mad Girls of New York is a fictional account of Bly's time in the Insane Asylum, in Are you interested in Gilded Age New York, investigative journalism, or historical fiction "based on a true story"? We are, and this book was perfect for us. Nellie Bly is the mother of investigative journalism who burst onto the scene in 1880s New York when she published an expose of Blackwell Island Insane Asylum. How did she gain access? She got herself committed - and it wasn't all that difficult, either. The Mad Girls of New York is a fictional account of Bly's time in the Insane Asylum, including her fight to be able to write for one of the big New York papers. The book also weaves in some more fantastical elements, including a mystery involving one of the ladies on the Island and Bly's fellow woman journalists who are also looking for scoops. As historical romance readers, we were already familiar with Maya Rodale's work. Although The Mad Girls of New York is not a romance, we recognized some Rodale's signature style: sly references to contemporary pop culture and a focus on the forgotten feminists of Gilded Age New York among them. There are also some tantalizing hints of what might turn into some romantic tension in later books in the series. Make sure you check out the author's note, as well, which does a great job of unraveling fact from fiction as presented in the book. This objective review is based on a complimentary advanced reader copy of the book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    emma

    i read this in under five hours that is how good it was. the mad girls of new york is a book i just could not put down. it is a fictionalised version of a true story - the story of nellie bly, a gilded age journalist, who went undercover in an asylum to reveal the abhorrent treatment and abuse directed towards women, most of whom were not suffering from a bout of hysteria nor any other mental health issue; the subsequent tragedies that occurred. it is a story where women look out for other women i read this in under five hours that is how good it was. the mad girls of new york is a book i just could not put down. it is a fictionalised version of a true story - the story of nellie bly, a gilded age journalist, who went undercover in an asylum to reveal the abhorrent treatment and abuse directed towards women, most of whom were not suffering from a bout of hysteria nor any other mental health issue; the subsequent tragedies that occurred. it is a story where women look out for other women - women who fight for each other, despite the era and all that stands against them. “women have to look out for each other because no one else will. remember that.” there is no denying that it is entertaining or affluently interesting due to it being a true story, but it also successfully manages to be a commentary on the injustices women faced, and still do, centuries later. from the lack of care towards women’s bodies and mental health care to the way women are not believed, and when they are it is rare justice is served, to the biases of the suffragettes who only cared to fight for the rights of white women. the sheer bravery of all women who inhabit this story is inspiring. each one takes risks in order to live, and survive in a world which was not created for us to thrive or succeed beyond the men who own(ed) us. the women carve their own stories, with the help of each other, to become somebody or find themselves again. those who do not make it out, for there is a character we lose, is remembered through her story. it is a story with a tragic end, but one that shines a light on the failures of patriarchy and the mental health systems that were believed to be appropriate care, and in some places still are. i am, and for a long time will be, in awe.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    THE MAD GIRLS OF NEW YORK A Nellie Bly Novel by Maya Rodale Berkley Publishing Group, Berkley Pub Date: April 26 There seems to be a resurgence of interest in journalist Nellie Bly, reflected in the growing number of historical fiction novels about her. Mary Rodale has written a fabulous book about the famed reporter, courageous enough to enter Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum for Women as an "inmate" just to write about its abuses for New York World. She was lucky to survive and get out in time to THE MAD GIRLS OF NEW YORK A Nellie Bly Novel by Maya Rodale Berkley Publishing Group, Berkley Pub Date: April 26 There seems to be a resurgence of interest in journalist Nellie Bly, reflected in the growing number of historical fiction novels about her. Mary Rodale has written a fabulous book about the famed reporter, courageous enough to enter Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum for Women as an "inmate" just to write about its abuses for New York World. She was lucky to survive and get out in time to beat other reporters hot on the story. Survive she did, and The Mad Girls of New York captures her experience, drive and fearlessness as she exposes the truth, securing her reputation as an investigative journalist par excellence -- and female to boot! I become engrossed immediately and read through to the end because of the author's gripping narrative and rich character portrayals. Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction, brave women journalists, and New York's Guilded Age. A gem! Thanks to the author, Berkley Publishing Group, and NetGalley for the ARC. Opinions are mine. #TheMadGirlsofNewYork #MayaRodale #BerkleyPublishingGroup #NetGalley #NellieBlyhistoricalnovel #GildedAgeNY #glassceilingbreakingfemalereporter #journalismhistory #BlackwellsIslandInsaneAsylumforWomen #bookstagramcommunity

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

    Nelly Bly is a journalist in 1887 New York City. She's tired of writing for the "ladies pages" and wants something more. Nelly gets a chance interview with the head of the New York World and in order to impress him, she suggests to go undercover in the infamous Blackwell Asylum. The rumors around Blackwell have been well-known for many years, but no one has ever gone to investigate them. So, Nelly gets herself committed and is supposed to stay for an agreed-upon seven days; then someone from the Nelly Bly is a journalist in 1887 New York City. She's tired of writing for the "ladies pages" and wants something more. Nelly gets a chance interview with the head of the New York World and in order to impress him, she suggests to go undercover in the infamous Blackwell Asylum. The rumors around Blackwell have been well-known for many years, but no one has ever gone to investigate them. So, Nelly gets herself committed and is supposed to stay for an agreed-upon seven days; then someone from the World will come for her release. Nelly gets so much more than she ever expected. Deplorable conditions, abuse, no heat, poor clothing, and barely any food are just some of what Nelly experiences within her first few hours at Blackwell. However unbeknownst to Nelly, two rival reporters are also trying to get the inside scoop on the asylum and steal Nelly's story. Will Nelly survive Blackwell Asylum long enough to write her expose? This book was so hard to read at time. To know that these events, while fictionalized here, most likely happened to real people when asylums existed is heartbreaking. Women were sent to asylums for the most benign reasons or even just because their husbands or families wanted to be rid of them. My only issue with this book was the fact that Nelly is introduced as being a very independent woman who wants to focus on her career and doesn't want to be tired to marriage and motherhood. However, there are several instances where she becomes "affected" by pretty much any male she encounters. It's fine if she gets a crush on on character, but it just seemed like it was any male character. Overall, this was a sad, heartbreaking, and somewhat educational look into what asylums were like in the 19th century.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Deanne Patterson

    Giving a voice to the voiceless, that is exactly what Nellie Bly does in this fictionalized tale based on a true story. Nellie Bly is a reporter in new York City in the late 1880's , like all ladies of her time her assignments are boring ladies pages such as homemaking and cooking because after all ladies can not handle emotional important posts. Out to prove a point she accepts an assignment going undercover as a madwoman who gets herself committed as a patient at Blackwell's Island Insane Asyl Giving a voice to the voiceless, that is exactly what Nellie Bly does in this fictionalized tale based on a true story. Nellie Bly is a reporter in new York City in the late 1880's , like all ladies of her time her assignments are boring ladies pages such as homemaking and cooking because after all ladies can not handle emotional important posts. Out to prove a point she accepts an assignment going undercover as a madwoman who gets herself committed as a patient at Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum for Women. For ten maddening days and nights she is undercover lumped in with the other women in this hellish asylum where the nursing staffs mistreatment is scarier than actually being committed there. From freezing cold dunking "baths" to being woken up in the middle of the night to drink "water" that keeps you numb and drugged up for compliance the women are never sure what to expect. With her time spent there Nellie discovers many horrifying things but will she be able to escape with her insanity intact to publish the story that will launch her career and make that important name for herself? Fascinating historical taking place during the Gilded Age in New York City. This is part one of the series so I look forward to reading more of Nellie Bly's story. Pub Date 26 Apr 2022 I was given a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Huether

    In 1887 Nellie Bly has more ambition that writing ladies pages in a news paper. She has her eye set in going to New York City and working as a real journalist. She hear about "Blackwell" an asylum, where women were held more like poisoners in a jail. To Nellie that would be a front page story. She began to act up, getting the attention of the police. She was placed at Blackwell's. She wanted the real story of the women there and the awful treatment they received. Nellie was there for ten days. He In 1887 Nellie Bly has more ambition that writing ladies pages in a news paper. She has her eye set in going to New York City and working as a real journalist. She hear about "Blackwell" an asylum, where women were held more like poisoners in a jail. To Nellie that would be a front page story. She began to act up, getting the attention of the police. She was placed at Blackwell's. She wanted the real story of the women there and the awful treatment they received. Nellie was there for ten days. Her news paper editor got her released. Nellie had two days to write her story to be published in the paper, no picture of her to be in print. The stories to be printed two Sunday's in a row. It's the people of New York that will save the women in Blackwell's asylum. I received this free book from Penguin and Domhouse.com

  13. 5 out of 5

    Heather Moll

    I’m a fan of reporter Nellie Bly and have read a few biographies and nonfiction books about her 72 day trip around the world against Elisabeth Bisland, and her time on Blackwell’s Island, so when I saw there was a fictionalized account of her adventures, I knew I had to read it. Nelly is clever, determined, and oh so tired of being underestimated because she’s a woman. In 1887 she’s arrived in New York to further her investigative reporting career, but none of the papers will give her the time o I’m a fan of reporter Nellie Bly and have read a few biographies and nonfiction books about her 72 day trip around the world against Elisabeth Bisland, and her time on Blackwell’s Island, so when I saw there was a fictionalized account of her adventures, I knew I had to read it. Nelly is clever, determined, and oh so tired of being underestimated because she’s a woman. In 1887 she’s arrived in New York to further her investigative reporting career, but none of the papers will give her the time of day. She has no job, no money, and no friends—until she follows a woman leaving The World offices and discovers a group of women reporters. “Women have to look out for each other because no one else will. Remember that.” She gets the idea for a “stunt” and manages to present her scheme to the editor of the World to be admitted to an insane asylum for women in order to report on the rampant misdiagnosis of insanity and the deplorable conditions. She has no plan on how to be admitted and little plan for getting released, but that doesn’t rein in her enthusiasm in the slightest. While I liked her supporting cast of friends and acquaintances, I didn’t enjoy their points of view as much as Nellie’s. I could have stayed with her the entire time. Sam Colton with the Sun needs a scoop to support his ill sister and Marian from the Herald wants to write for more than the ladies’ pages. There’s an excellent balance between Nellie’s spunk and courage, and her fear and revulsion at how the women at the asylum were treated. It’s a fast-paced and sometimes horrifying blend of fact and fiction. All of the women portrayed at the asylum stayed with me, especially Princess and the tie-in to Marian’s story. The writing is modern, snappy, and clear—just like Nellie. I received an ARC from NetGalley

  14. 5 out of 5

    BreeAnn (She Just Loves Books)

    Nellie Bly is by far one of my favorite historical people. I love reading about her, and when I heard about this book, I knew I needed to read it. The Mad Girls of New York blew away my expectations in the best way! Maya Rodale did a fantastic job of bringing Nellie to life. She was bright and bubbly, strong-willed, and a genius! I loved her spontaneity and her compassion for others. Nellie's career was filled with amazing stories to help get the stories of women heard, but her 10 days in the mad Nellie Bly is by far one of my favorite historical people. I love reading about her, and when I heard about this book, I knew I needed to read it. The Mad Girls of New York blew away my expectations in the best way! Maya Rodale did a fantastic job of bringing Nellie to life. She was bright and bubbly, strong-willed, and a genius! I loved her spontaneity and her compassion for others. Nellie's career was filled with amazing stories to help get the stories of women heard, but her 10 days in the madhouse is probably the most famous. I loved getting a play-by-play view of this experience. It was so well-written and basically impossible to put down. Nellie's experience on Blackwell Island is awful. The treatment of these women was horrendous, and her courage to be committed to be able to shed light on this was amazing. I absolutely loved reading about it! The author added actual excerpts from Nellie's writing, and I appreciated that. I also enjoyed the fictional characters that were added. The author's note at the end does a wonderful job of separating the fact from fiction for the reader. I would highly recommend this if you are looking for a fun historical fiction that focuses on the rights of women or if you want to learn more about Nellie Bly! I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the e-ARC of The Mad Girls of New York! From what I can tell this is a fairly early version with stylistic notes from the author in the text, so I won't comment on any minor grammatical/spelling issues I tripped on in the text as I assume they're long since cleaned up. The Mad Girls of New York is set in 1887 and follows the (mostly) true story of Nellie Bly, an intrepid female reporter who published a groundbreaking series of articles calle Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the e-ARC of The Mad Girls of New York! From what I can tell this is a fairly early version with stylistic notes from the author in the text, so I won't comment on any minor grammatical/spelling issues I tripped on in the text as I assume they're long since cleaned up. The Mad Girls of New York is set in 1887 and follows the (mostly) true story of Nellie Bly, an intrepid female reporter who published a groundbreaking series of articles called Ten Days in a Mad-House (which she eventually went on to publish as a book). "The Mad Girls of New York" tells the story of how Nellie landed a job at the New York World and went undercover at Blackwell's Island to expose the misdiagnosis of women with insanity and the subsequent mistreatment and abuse at the asylum. Nellie's true story does a lot of work in this novel, but Maya Rodale tells the story with panache, pulling in details of a fire in Nellie's past (not unlike Lizzie Halliday, who Nellie interviewed many years later), a group of supportive female reporters, a hidden lunch spot for professional women, and a rival reporter Sam Colton. After reading Mad Girls of New York, I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, as I'd like to know more about Nellie's adventures!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robin Loves Reading

    When I started this incredible book by Maya Rodale, I immediately thought of the movie Frankie and Johnny.  I saw that movie over fifty years ago and I strongly remember the character Nellie Bly. Well, the Nellie Bly in this book is not the character from the movie. No, Nellie Bly was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran and Nellie Bly became her pen name.  The reason she chose a pen name is that it was not the thing for women to have either their name nor their photograph in a public newspaper. Nellie ha When I started this incredible book by Maya Rodale, I immediately thought of the movie Frankie and Johnny.  I saw that movie over fifty years ago and I strongly remember the character Nellie Bly. Well, the Nellie Bly in this book is not the character from the movie. No, Nellie Bly was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran and Nellie Bly became her pen name.  The reason she chose a pen name is that it was not the thing for women to have either their name nor their photograph in a public newspaper. Nellie had been writing for a newspaper, but it was all fluff. Knowing she could offer much more in the field of journalism, she headed to New York, determined to get hired by a notable New York paper. The time frame was The Gilded Age and it was a matter of course for women to be disregarded for many jobs during time period, yet many began to leave conventional roles. Nellie approaches an editor for a job, and at the same time there is a male reporter after the same job. She comes up with something major. She will get herself committed to an insane asylum called Blackwell's. The institution has a horrible reputation.  Blackwell's Island insane asylum was a place built in the 1830s and is often used as a warning to keep women in line. Women were known to disappear when it came to Blackwell's and the threats were taken quite seriously. Considering no woman leaves Blackwell's alive, Nellie is taking quite a risk.  Nonetheless, she lays a plan to get in but is unclear as to how she will get out. Her plan works and she is committed. Things are as bad as she had heard, even more so. Nellie endures the same brutal conditions as the 1,600 other women are experiencing. The only difference is that Nellie is planning on getting out in seven days.  The Mad Girls of New York is actually the first book in the Nellie Bly series. Since this is a fictional work based on true historical events, readers can look forward to reading more of Nellie Bly's exploits as she became a noted journalist. Please be sure to read the Author's Note at the end of the book. Maya Rodale did extensive research and offers other reading material for those interested in the life and exploits of Nellie Bly. While this book was truly an exceptional read, it was difficult to read the passages about the horrid conditions that women were experiencing inside of Blackwell's walls. The author did a fabulous job making Nellie Bly come alive in the pages of this book. Many thanks to Berkley Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Riveting historical fiction based on the journalist Nellie Bly, who spent ten days confined at Blackwell's Insane Asylum for Women in 1887. The story is real and the descriptions of those days in the asylum still cause me anxiety when I imagine what it was like and how it would feel to be sent there. Hopeless. What Nellie endured to expose that hideous place as it truly was is nothing short of extremely courageous. The fact that so many women were labeled as lunatics and locked away for the rest Riveting historical fiction based on the journalist Nellie Bly, who spent ten days confined at Blackwell's Insane Asylum for Women in 1887. The story is real and the descriptions of those days in the asylum still cause me anxiety when I imagine what it was like and how it would feel to be sent there. Hopeless. What Nellie endured to expose that hideous place as it truly was is nothing short of extremely courageous. The fact that so many women were labeled as lunatics and locked away for the rest of their lives is deplorable history, but it happened. Having read 10 Days in a Madhouse written by Nellie Bly back when I was in high school, I was again intrigued by her story and wanted to revisit it during this particular time when mental health is getting a much needed focus. Reading about the blatant mistreatment of women during those days still angered me as well as made me truly appreciate what she and many other women have done over the past hundred plus years to create a new narrative for all women. But, honestly, in my heart, I still feel that we have not come far enough. Yes, there have been strides in what is claimed by some to be equality, but sometimes when I read the news, hear about new laws or proposed changes, I think that we are not fully there yet. I know that great improvements have been made in the treatment of the mentally ill, but yet there are still so many who are suffering without any access to the care that could help them. Despite evidence, some continue to believe that psychological illness is not a disease and there is often negative stigma attached to those seeking relief. This story was a great reminder that outrageous injustice still exists and that we cannot wait for another Nellie Bly but must step up ourselves to affirm and support any methods that will improve the lives of, not just women, but all humanity. Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishers for this e-book ARC to read, review, and recommend.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Rupe

    Will be reviewed at smittenbybooks.com

  19. 4 out of 5

    kimreadsandreads

    You know the book I just read is a good one when, for days after finishing it, I find a way to work it into the conversation with everyone. This is one of those. ⠀ I think I had heard about Nellie Bly occasionally in the past, but more recently her name came up in other novels centered around the Gilded Age of New York, when the uber rich “400” lived a life of privilege and extravagance that more than rivals any today. ⠀ The Mad Women of New York, by Maya Rodale, is a fictionalized story based on tr You know the book I just read is a good one when, for days after finishing it, I find a way to work it into the conversation with everyone. This is one of those. ⠀ I think I had heard about Nellie Bly occasionally in the past, but more recently her name came up in other novels centered around the Gilded Age of New York, when the uber rich “400” lived a life of privilege and extravagance that more than rivals any today. ⠀ The Mad Women of New York, by Maya Rodale, is a fictionalized story based on truth about Nellie Bly and her undercover stint as an inmate in an infamous insane asylum in order to report on it for a major New York newspaper. ⠀ I loved how her story showed the injustices not only inflicted on the women in the asylum, but on women in general in the late 1800’s. Women belonged to their fathers, then their husbands, and any sort of independence was frowned upon. Nellie has an elaborate scheme to act insane and convince doctors that she needed to be sent to the asylum. She soon realizes that she didn’t have to act crazy at all, she just had to do is have a friend declare her insane, or practically anything really. ⠀ I read through this novel so quickly, I was thoroughly engrossed in Nellie’s fight for herself and the women she met. It is a fascinating story and now I plan to look up Nellie Bly’s two part, front page news articles about her “Ten Days in a Mad-House”. She was such a pioneer for women reporters and women’s rights. ⠀ She is truly perfect for #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen and I am so thankful to @BerkleyPub for my advanced copy of this amazing historical fiction novel. It is available on Tuesday and I highly recommend it. ⠀

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shelley

    *Source* Publisher *Genre* Historical Fiction *Rating* 3.5-4 *Thoughts* Maya Rodale's The Mad Girl of New York is the first installment in the authors Nellie Bly series. This story is based on Nellie Bly aka Elizabeth Jane Cochran's Ten Days in a Mad-House. Nellie was a reporter for the Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1887 before leaving for NYC and challenging the New York World to hire her to do an undercover story about Blackwell Asylum where women enter, but never leave. Her two part story kicked off her *Source* Publisher *Genre* Historical Fiction *Rating* 3.5-4 *Thoughts* Maya Rodale's The Mad Girl of New York is the first installment in the authors Nellie Bly series. This story is based on Nellie Bly aka Elizabeth Jane Cochran's Ten Days in a Mad-House. Nellie was a reporter for the Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1887 before leaving for NYC and challenging the New York World to hire her to do an undercover story about Blackwell Asylum where women enter, but never leave. Her two part story kicked off her career that would eventually see her travel the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg. *Full Review @ Gizmos Reviews* https://gizmosreviews.blogspot.com/20...

  21. 4 out of 5

    mykanos *~*spinebreaker*~*

    ok guys i am not pleased at the threat of a love triangle at 95% but this is a vivid, ALIVE fictionalization of a very real, very incredible person. Highly recommend reading Ten Days in a Mad-House first because there's a LOT to process and a lot that's even similar in formatting, and nothing quite compares to the truth. But this made her story even more colorful and heart-wrenching and just. ugh. so good. full review on spinebreaker ok guys i am not pleased at the threat of a love triangle at 95% but this is a vivid, ALIVE fictionalization of a very real, very incredible person. Highly recommend reading Ten Days in a Mad-House first because there's a LOT to process and a lot that's even similar in formatting, and nothing quite compares to the truth. But this made her story even more colorful and heart-wrenching and just. ugh. so good. full review on spinebreaker

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brittany | chasingmrdarcy

    Thank you so much for an advanced copy of this book! Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Genre: Historical Fiction(ish) Pub Date: April 26, 2022 I liked this book a lot. It is based on a true story, and I feel like Maya Rodale wrote a story that has a lot of panache and energy in it. I was really swept into the late 1800s in this one, and I was immersed in the story when the story was moving along nicely. Historically, I thought the story was complex and beyond interesting! To think this really, for the most part, Thank you so much for an advanced copy of this book! Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Genre: Historical Fiction(ish) Pub Date: April 26, 2022 I liked this book a lot. It is based on a true story, and I feel like Maya Rodale wrote a story that has a lot of panache and energy in it. I was really swept into the late 1800s in this one, and I was immersed in the story when the story was moving along nicely. Historically, I thought the story was complex and beyond interesting! To think this really, for the most part, happened is crazy yet so interesting at the same time. That being said, the book did drag at parts, and those parts that dragged for me REALLY dragged. That kept me from enjoying this book as much as some others I've read recently, and that's what led me to a three star rating. This is a little outside what I normally would read, but I think if the story had been paced a bit better, I would rate the book four stars easily. Once I was hung up on the pacing, though, it was hard for me to let it go.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    The Writing is Clever and Captivating SUMMARY In 1887 Nelly Bly was an ambitious reporter for the Pittsburgh Dispatch newspaper when she left a note for her editor that she was headed to New York City to make her mark. Once there, she struggled to find work, facing rejection after rejection on newspaper row. After four months in New York and out of money, Nellie insinuated herself into the office of the editor of the New York World newspaper. There she pitched a story that only a woman could cover The Writing is Clever and Captivating SUMMARY In 1887 Nelly Bly was an ambitious reporter for the Pittsburgh Dispatch newspaper when she left a note for her editor that she was headed to New York City to make her mark. Once there, she struggled to find work, facing rejection after rejection on newspaper row. After four months in New York and out of money, Nellie insinuated herself into the office of the editor of the New York World newspaper. There she pitched a story that only a woman could cover. Nellie proposed to fake insanity to be admitted to the women’s lunatic asylum on Blackwell Island. Once there, she would investigate reports of brutality and neglect rumored to occur. To be committed to Blackwell, Nellie had to convince a police officer, a judge, and a doctor of her insanity. Once committed, Bly experienced the cruelty and deplorable conditions first hand. Her biggest fear: she would go insane before her editor was able to get her released. REVIEW THE MAD GIRLS OF NEW YORK is a poignant and revealing historical fiction novel based on the tenacious Nellie Bly. Bly will never be forgotten for her fight for justice for women. It’s always a pleasure to read about women like Bly who are full of strength and character. She is undoubtable the most famous American female reporter of the 19th century. You can’t help but be enamored by the setting of the story. Seeing the island of Manhatten in 1887, through Nellie’s eyes is special. Nellie’s vivid descriptions of the Hall 6 on Blackwell Island will positively make you shiver. Author Maya Rodale’s writing is clever and captivating. While the story is based on the facts of Nellie Bly’s writing and personality, she has taken liberties with Nellie’s time in Manhatten and at the asylum, to make the story even more compelling. Several characters are fictional but they are fashioned after real life persons who had lived either before or after Nellie’s time in New York. Rodale’s portrayal of Nellie’s character is delightful, as well as her portrayal of three of Nellie’s fellow inmates, Prayer Girl, Tillie, and Princess. Rodale writes funny, feminist historical fiction and romance novels. In the middle of the pandemic she was reading an out-of-print book published in 1965 about famous American women who defied conventions, when she became intrigued by the idea of a book about Nellie Bly. Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Publisher Berkley Publishing Group Published April 26, 2022 Review www.bluestockingreviews.com

  24. 4 out of 5

    Irene

    The Mad Girls of New York by Maya Rodale A comprehensive account of Nellie Bly's undercover investigation into Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum for Women. Entertaining and engaging read. Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview the book. The Mad Girls of New York by Maya Rodale A comprehensive account of Nellie Bly's undercover investigation into Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum for Women. Entertaining and engaging read. Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to preview the book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    I received a gifted galley of THE MAD GIRLS OF NEW YORK by Maya Rodale for an honest review. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review! THE MAD GIRLS OF NEW YORK is a historical fiction novel based on the life of Nellie Bly. Nellie is an aspiring journalist, struggling to find a place for herself in the boy’s club of journalism in 1887. There are very few women on the scene, but Nellie is determined to do whatever it takes. Nellie pitches a big stor I received a gifted galley of THE MAD GIRLS OF NEW YORK by Maya Rodale for an honest review. Thank you to Berkley Publishing Group and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review! THE MAD GIRLS OF NEW YORK is a historical fiction novel based on the life of Nellie Bly. Nellie is an aspiring journalist, struggling to find a place for herself in the boy’s club of journalism in 1887. There are very few women on the scene, but Nellie is determined to do whatever it takes. Nellie pitches a big story – she will go undercover as a patient in Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum for Women. The conditions there are horrific and women are hardly listened to or treated for any legitimate complaints. Instead, women are parked there with something short of even their basic needs being met. Even as she deals with the shocks of things she couldn’t have imagined, she also must fight to get her story before someone else gets the scoop! I really enjoy learning about different people and time periods through historical fiction. I had a vague knowledge of who Nellie Bly was and similarly had some insight into the conditions of insane asylums of the past, but this book really was eye opening. Working in mental health, I know some of the history of how patients in locked settings have been treated, so while the conditions described in the book were deplorable, they also weren’t unexpected. Sadly, improvements to mental health treatment have taken far too long to improve. I really enjoyed Nellie’s character and the way she was portrayed. She had a lot of bravery to go into settings where she wouldn’t be welcomed. Early on in the book she conducts a series of interviews with the editors of the various papers around New York and gets their takes on the reasons why women don’t belong in journalism which I found really an interesting element. This was a really fun read and I’m glad to see it listed as the first in a series! I will definitely look forward to reading more of Nellie’s adventures!

  26. 5 out of 5

    gabreadsbooks

    A compelling story inspired by an amazing lady. I will admit, I had no idea who Nellie Bly was before reading this book. I read the blurb and thought, "wow, she seems like an interesting woman", and gave this a try. I am so glad I did. This is very different from Rodale's usual books. Mind you, I have only read her historical romances, but from the beginning I could tell this was going to be a different reading experience. It's clear from the way the story is written that the author took a great A compelling story inspired by an amazing lady. I will admit, I had no idea who Nellie Bly was before reading this book. I read the blurb and thought, "wow, she seems like an interesting woman", and gave this a try. I am so glad I did. This is very different from Rodale's usual books. Mind you, I have only read her historical romances, but from the beginning I could tell this was going to be a different reading experience. It's clear from the way the story is written that the author took a great deal of consideration, care and research into writing this story. Considering this is based on a real person, I appreciate Rodale's efforts. The main plot is compelling and thought-provoking. I never thought the plot was lacking. The pacing would slow down from time to time but it would always pick up. I will say, this is more historical fiction than historical romance so readers should be aware of that going in. Overall this was a great read and I am interested to see if Rodale will continue Bly's adventures.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kristeen Hughes

    Round up to 4.5 stars.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Reading Our Shelves

    Full review at: https://readingourshelves.wordpress.c... Nellie Bly had worked as a reporter for a few years already, in Pittsburgh, but she eventually moved to New York City with hopes to work for one of the bigger papers. But just getting in the doors to get an interview proves hard for a woman, because women weren’t considered good choices for reporter jobs. She’s been in the city for four months, and she’s struggling to pay her rent. She is also very aware that women who are considered “inconv Full review at: https://readingourshelves.wordpress.c... Nellie Bly had worked as a reporter for a few years already, in Pittsburgh, but she eventually moved to New York City with hopes to work for one of the bigger papers. But just getting in the doors to get an interview proves hard for a woman, because women weren’t considered good choices for reporter jobs. She’s been in the city for four months, and she’s struggling to pay her rent. She is also very aware that women who are considered “inconvenient” often end up in insane asylums, with no way to prove their sanity. So she needs to land on her feet, soon. Which is how she comes up with the crazy plan – to act crazy. To see how easy it is to get herself locked up, and to report on the actual conditions and practices inside the asylum, which does not open its doors to reporters. Specifically, she aims to get inside the asylum on Blackwell’s Island, which is rumored to be the most inhumane. She does this “stunt” with the cooperation of the deputy editor of the New York World, who promises to get her out in a week or so. She does get in, and is there for about 10 days. She meets other women, and of course, most are not really crazy at all – some are heartbroken and/or depressed, sick and in need of medical care their families couldn’t provide, foreign and unable to understand English, or maybe just poor (and therefore a nuisance). The conditions are deplorable, and they are given no reasons to hope for more. They have to sit on hard benches all day and not talk or move. Nelly reasons that some of them may become insane while there, because they are given no mental or physical stimulation. It’s also freezing cold (she is there in October), and they don’t get enough to eat. The title – “The Mad Girls of New York” – refers to the women of the asylum. But the story also follows some of Nellie’s acquaintances in the city, as well as her time before and after this assignment. Women trying to support themselves financially, and not just depending on a man to take care of them. And these girls could also be considered “mad” for their time (the 1880’s). This whole scenario is based on actual events, which Bly wrote her own book about at the time ("Ten Days in a Mad-House"). The author used info from that book, but also based characters on other people and stories from that era. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I’d definitely recommend this one. Even though we know Nellie will get out eventually, the stakes still seem high for her comrades in the asylum. And there’s one more fun twist after she gets out, too.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erica Chilson

    I received a free copy of this title to read and review for Wicked Reads THE MAD GIRLS of NEW YORK is the debut in a brand-new series by Maya Rodale, Nellie Bly. To be honest, I was unaware of the Nellie Bly story until I delved into this novel. While reading, Nellie was reminiscent of Sarah Howard from The Alienist in her determination to get to the truth, while dealing with the limitations of the era for a progressive woman living in a man's world, set to the backdrop of New York City's Gilded I received a free copy of this title to read and review for Wicked Reads THE MAD GIRLS of NEW YORK is the debut in a brand-new series by Maya Rodale, Nellie Bly. To be honest, I was unaware of the Nellie Bly story until I delved into this novel. While reading, Nellie was reminiscent of Sarah Howard from The Alienist in her determination to get to the truth, while dealing with the limitations of the era for a progressive woman living in a man's world, set to the backdrop of New York City's Gilded Age. Based on true events, this is the fictionalized account of Nellie Bly, a journalist willing to do anything necessary to get to the root of the story, depicting it as accurately as possible, even if that meant committing herself into an asylum. The story is propelled by Nellie's struggles in Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum as her narration draws to light the atrocities her fellow women endured. I won't go into great depth, as this is truly what the story entails, and I wish readers to view it through their own eyes. I'm thankful the heavy content wasn't made shallow by a strong romance thread, other than a hint here or there, as that is part of the human condition. The heaviness was offset with Maya Rodale's personal brand of humor, the levity much needed and appreciated. The strength of the novel is the connection between all the women, as they support one another. Captivated from start to finish, read cover-to-cover, an intriguing take on a real-life woman's bravery, while allowing the reader to transport themselves back in time to where we can appreciate how far we have come as women, giving us the bravery to never stop making strides for equality. The only con of the novel was the shift in POV. I enjoyed being in Nellie's head and felt the shift to others was unnecessary. I wasn't invested in the story from their perspective, slightly annoyed to be thrust from Nellie. While I understood it on the whole at the completion of the novel, I didn't enjoy those POVs while reading. Highly recommend to fans of the author, and I greatly anticipate more from the fictionalized journey of Nellie Bly, as well as from the engaging side characters who were introduced. However, I do wish to point out to those who are seeking historical romance, this novel is by no means a romance.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Wendy W.

    Four and a Half Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭒ The Mad Girls of New York is a historical fiction novel based on real events. It is also the first book in Maya Rodale’s Nellie Bly series. And I’m excited that I’ll get to learn more about Nellie in her next book. Nellie moves to New York City to become a reporter after starting out in Philidelphia, writing for the ladies' pages in the Philly paper. But, now in New York, she wants to write “real news” and not just recipes and society news. She goes from newspaper to n Four and a Half Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭒ The Mad Girls of New York is a historical fiction novel based on real events. It is also the first book in Maya Rodale’s Nellie Bly series. And I’m excited that I’ll get to learn more about Nellie in her next book. Nellie moves to New York City to become a reporter after starting out in Philidelphia, writing for the ladies' pages in the Philly paper. But, now in New York, she wants to write “real news” and not just recipes and society news. She goes from newspaper to newspaper and all she gets are rejections. When she meets up with a couple of other journalists, she decides she has to do something drastic to get a big story so a newspaper will hire her. When Nellie hears the rumors about the horrible conditions at Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum for Women, she realizes this may be her chance for an important story. But, the only way in is to have herself committed, and then withstand the deplorable conditions for a week. It’s only a week, how hard can it be? I loved Nellie Bly. She’s tough, fearless, and not afraid to stick up for herself. The book focused on the horrific conditions at Blackwell’s and sometimes it was difficult to read because it’s just so sad. But, it’s also so inspirational. Nellie made some very interesting friendships inside the asylum and I just loved how these women banded together and helped each other out as best they could. I’m really looking forward to the next installment of this series. I can’t wait to see what kind of story Nellie finds next. Make sure you read the author’s notes at the end too! I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction. I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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