I was a huge fan of Kate Moore’s book “The Radium Girls” when it came out, and it’s been one of those rare books that has really stuck with me for a long time. I wondered if Moore would be able to come up with another worthy subject after the fascinating women in her first book. Luckily, Moore is as skilled with picking a subject as she is crafting a captivating and meaningful nonfiction tome.
“The Woman They Could Not Silence” follows the life of Elizabeth Packard, a woman in the 1860s who was imprisoned in an asylum for basically disagreeing with her husband. This insanely bright and compassionate woman was punished for being intellectual and outspoken (and daring to have a mind of her own). It’s crazy to think that women had zero rights not so long ago in our history – women could have been committed indefinitely for ‘novel reading’ (I sure would have been in trouble!)
Moore does a wonderful job including enough history so that the reader understands the context of Packard’s life and the time period without getting bogged down in fact after fact. Packard’s story is truly a remarkable one – the obstacles she faces and how she works to overcome her circumstances are both inspirational and impressive. I won’t go into detail about what Packard was able to accomplish since the reader doesn’t immediately know what her fate will be. But I will say that it’s unfortunate that Packard is not taught about in school as a valued crusader for the rights of mentally ill individuals and women.
I can’t find any faults in Moore’s storytelling – the pacing is quick, dramatic, and attention-grabbing. There were even a few moments where I actually gasped out loud at what was taking place in Packard’s journey. Like Packard herself, I hope Moore is appreciated for her immense talent and incredible brain.
*Free ARC provided by Netgalley and Source Books in exchange for an honest review*