The Madwomen of Paris

by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Paris in the 1800’s wasn’t a kind place for women. When Laure’s physician father dies and she disscovers that she and her little sister are bankrupt, Laure has a breakdown, is sent to the Salpêtrière mental hospital in Paris and diagnosed as a hysteric. At that time women could be committed for anything and the usual diagnosis was hysteria. The doctor treating women with hysterucs at Salpêtrière is Doctor Martine Charcot. Dr Charcot has a controversial way of treating these women with hypnosis being one of his main methods. When he finds that Laure can’t be hypnotized he decides that she is cured and assigns her to take care of other women in her ward. All Laure wants to do is leave so she can find her little sister who was put into foster care when Laure was put in the asylum.

When a thin young women, covered in blood and screaming is brought to the hospital and put under Laure’s care, she feels a strange connection to this vulnerable young woman. Josephine is beautiful and susceptible to hypnosis so Dr. Charcot begins using her in his hypnosis forums at the hospital. The public can attnd his lectures and watch the patients do anything the doctor tells them to do. It is degrading and Laure vows that the two of them will somehow leave the asylum and find her little sister.

Meticulously researched and based on true events and people,The Madwomen of Paris is an interesting look at the way women were treated for mental illness during the 1800’s in Paris. I really enjoyed it.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for the Advanced Reading Copy.

The Madwomen of Paris will be published on July18, 2023. You cam pre-order or purchase it from my Amazon affiliate link.

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