A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love historical fiction that doesn't put romance as a center plot line. LOVE IT.
Mindy McGinnis has put her main character Grace into a terrible situation: she's in a mental asylum, placed there by her family because of the fact that she's been found pregnant. No one can know that she's pregnant, it would be terrible for the family because it would uncover secrets that would ruin them all. And Grace hasn't spoken since. While there she meets a strange doctor who recognizes her intelligence and schemes to take her out of there by pretending he botched a procedure on her and they will need to hide that from her affluent and very powerful father. He takes her away to a new asylum, one that is run with dignity and care. Although Grace must continue to hide her voice, she accompanies the doctor as he visits crime scenes in an attempt to use the new science of criminal psychology. Very soon, they discover that there is a serial killer in their midst.
We meet a number of characters throughout the book who live in the asylum. Some truly do have mental health disorders, but others do not. Most are women who are put there by husbands or fathers simply to get them out of the way. Some are ill, but mentally ill, and so they are committed so their family members do not have to deal with them. The conditions at the first place Grace is living in are deplorable. There is a lack of food, lack of medical care, and patients would often be beaten or hit. Some of them were locked in cellars for long periods of time. Unfortunately, this is what many asylums were like. The one in which Grace travels to was much nicer. Patients were treated with respect and care. It is a comparison that Grace makes often during her time there.
A Madness So Discreet is about many things, but I believe it is very much about how women have been viewed in the past. Not only are we shown multiple women who have been sent to live in asylums not because they needed help, but because they were different, needed medical attention, or were defiant, but the serial killer is targeting young women--mostly prostitutes. As you read the Dr.'s and Grace's surmising about the killer and his or her motives, you can see this played out even more.
The best part, is that there is no romance. There is no love interest. It truly is about Grace. I loved this book and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books! I think I might try outThe Female of the Species.
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