In 1860, When Elizabeth Packard didn’t believe in religion in quite the same way her husband did, having her own beliefs and speaking her mind – her husband did what he had every right to do – he had her put in an asylum.
Mother of six, intelligent, and independent Elizabeth was sentenced on her husband’s word alone – no trial – to the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland. The conditions are horrific, and unclean, with the inability to go outside. Elizabeth quickly discovers she is not the only sane woman in the asylum – imprisoned for such things as – laziness, opinionated, and crazy – decidedly so by no court – but an opinion.
Elizabeth stays strong in her beliefs, fueled by the reality of what she is seeing, and makes it her mission to not only secure her own freedom – but of those who are also wrongfully accused – not only for the present but for the future as well.
My book club read this book for our September 2022 discussion. I for one was amazed I had never heard of Elizabeth Packard and the great strides she made for women. The book was engrossing and at times hard to read. I found myself looking things up to go deeper into the research of what had happened – including the list I found of things that women were sent away for. By that list, as you can see in the above picture of my book club that was present the night of the discussion – we all could have been put away for something.
I have been talking about this book to anyone who will listen. An important read that brought forth a deep discussion of the current changes in our world. Highly recommended. This was my favorite book discussion so far this year.