I definitely enjoyed this book. I have been on a kick of books on the history of the asylum lately, and this is definitely one of the better books that I have read in that category.
I really enjoyed that the majority of this book is by the women themselves. I found it incredibly interesting to read their stories in their own words. I couldn’t believe that the majority of the women in the Asylum’s (judging by the women’s stories and history of the time) were just put there by their husbands/family for expressing views that were different from what was acceptable at the time or because they were believers in a different religion than their families. I also couldn’t believe how awful the treatment was for these women. Many were forced to eat intolerable food and were abused by the people in charge, yet it seemed as if the majority of women were hopeful of a change in the future, of a time when women wouldn’t be forced into the asylum by their husbands and would be treated with the dignity they deserved.
The authors did a really good job in this book of giving the reader a good, brief overview of the history of the time. The book is broken down into time periods and at the start of each new time period the authors give a history of events that were going on and what women were going through at that time period. I thought that the history of the time allowed the reader to better understand the stories that were in the book. Given a little history of the time, the stories that the women wrote were much more powerful.
I thought that the writing in this book was good. Obviously it’s more of a challenge to judge the writing when the book is written by so many different authors. But the actual authors themselves did a really good job of picking out stories that were easy to read and well written.
Overall, I found this book to be extremely fascinating and enjoyable. While the subject matter is relatively grim, there is still a glimmer of hope for change throughout the entire book. I would definitely recommend this book for those interested in women’s right or a history of the mental health system in america for women. Definitely worth the read.