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The Girl Puzzle: A Story of Nellie Bly by…
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The Girl Puzzle: A Story of Nellie Bly

by Kate Braithwaite

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Based on a true story about a pioneering female journalist, told in the format of a dual timeline set in 1887 and 1921. Elizabeth Cochrane, aka Nellie Bly, desperate for a job on a newspaper, impersonates an insane woman in order to infiltrate Blackwell Island’s Asylum in New York and report back on care and conditions. Some thirty years later she is living in a hotel, running an adoption agency, with Beatrice Alexander as her secretary. Beatrice is given a manuscript to type up which revisits Nellie’s experiences in the asylum and this gives Beatrice a great insight into Nellie’s psyche.

I’d heard of Nellie Bly but didn’t really know anything about her, so I found this book extremely interesting and also fascinating and compelling. It seems very well researched and conveys a realistic and shocking interpretation of life in an asylum during the Victorian era. It’s horrifying to think that some people were committed to such places just because they were a little confused or had fallen on hard times, they weren’t insane at all. It’s beautifully and vividly written. I think the author has done a fantastic job of filling in the gaps and elaborating on grey areas. The story isn’t always dark - Beatrice gives the tale a little lightness with her budding romance with Ernest Coulter, an employee of the Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children, fictional though it may be!

If you enjoy fiction based on lesser known characters in history, you couldn’t do better than read this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can highly recommend it. ( )
  VanessaCW | Apr 29, 2019 |
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Her published story is well known. But did she tell the whole truth about her ten days in the madhouse? Down to her last dime and offered the chance of a job of a lifetime at The New York World, twenty-three-year old Elizabeth Cochrane agrees to get herself admitted to Blackwell's Island Lunatic Asylum and report on conditions from the inside. But what happened to her poor friend, Tilly Mayard? Was there more to her high praise of Dr Frank Ingram than everyone knew? Thirty years later, Elizabeth, known as Nellie Bly, is no longer a celebrated trailblazer and the toast of Newspaper Row. Instead, she lives in a suite in the Hotel McAlpin, writes a column for The New York Journal and runs an informal adoption agency for the city's orphans. Beatrice Alexander is her secretary, fascinated by Miss Bly and her causes and crusades. Asked to type up a manuscript revisiting her employer's experiences in the asylum in 1887, Beatrice believes she's been given the key to understanding one of the most innovative and daring figures of the age.… (more)

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