Book Highlight: The Mad Girls of New York by Maya Rodale

book highlight the mad girls of new york maya rodale
the mad girls of new york maya rodale

Title: The Mad Girls of New York (A Nellie Bly Novel #1)

Author: Maya Rodale

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction

A gripping and compelling novel based on the true story of fearless reporter Nellie Bly, who will stop at nothing to prove that a woman’s place is on the front page. 
In 1887 New York City, Nellie Bly has ambitions beyond writing for the ladies pages, but all the editors on Newspaper Row think women are too emotional, respectable and delicate to do the job. But then the New York World challenges her to an assignment she’d be mad to accept and mad to refuse: go undercover as a patient at Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum for women. 
For months, rumors have been swirling about deplorable conditions at Blackwell’s but no reporter can get in—that is, until Nellie feigns insanity, gets herself committed and attempts to survive ten days in the madhouse. Once inside, Nellie befriends her fellow patients who help her uncover shocking truths about the asylum. It’s a story that promises to be explosive—but will she get out before rival reporters get the scoop?
From USA Today bestselling author Maya Rodale comes a witty, energetic and uplifting novel about a woman who defied convention to become the most famous reporter in Gilded Age New York. Perfect for fans of hidden histories about women who triumph.

Why This Book

The Mad Girls of New York is a fictional story about intrepid female journalist Nellie Bly, who helped pave the way for female investigative reporters. This novel covers her break into the field as she volunteered to pretend to be insane to get sent to an insane asylum for women in order to uncover what was happening to the women, because no one knew. I’ve long admired the things Nellie Bly did, how courageous and ambitious she was, and I think this novel captured her quite well. She’s remarkable and brave, and this is just the start of her story. I loved the way she’s portrayed as smart and dogged, never giving up on what she wants or afraid of stepping on toes. Of course she, both the historical and literary versions of her, has to be on my list of courageous women. I can’t imagine the kind of courage and ambition she must have had to do everything she did. She’s also just really brave to willingly get herself sent to an insane asylum in that time period.


My review: “She’s headstrong and stubborn and will clearly do anything to break into a man’s world and do what she’s good at. At the same time, there’s a softer side to her that’s offered, a side of her that cares about others and cares about her own survival and well-being as well. Nellie really came alive to me, and I liked that, sometimes, she was cautious, careful to not overplay her role”

Amanda’s Book Corner gave this 4.5 stars, saying “The Mad Girls of New York is a feminist tale about ambition and women’s career advancement, but also about improving the lives of those who have been rendered powerless. Nellie Bly aims to help women, those who are sick, those who are insane, people who are poor or immigrants or otherwise not accepted for who they are”

Books Teacup and Reviews gave this 5 stars, saying “She is fiery, passionate, filled with energy, smart, kind, strong-willed, and resolute person. I was expecting her to be reckless with all this traits but she wasn’t. She knew what she is doing and she has always been careful with her next step. Her courage, fear, and emotions are well portrayed. I liked how will and determination kept her from succumbing to fear and madness of the asylum and how her time in asylum made her strong”

Courtney Reads Romance gave this 4 stars, saying “Nellie is a compelling historical heroine, coming from humble beginnings, and struggling to be taken seriously. But that’s ultimately what makes her the perfect candidate to go “undercover” and investigate the suspicious nature of Blackwell’s Island. I admired her bravery, determination, and resourcefulness, especially once she entered the asylum”

She Just Loves Books gave this 5 stars, saying “The Mad Girls of New York blew away my expectations in the best way! Maya Rodale did a fantastic job of bringing Nellie to life. She was bright and bubbly, strong-willed, and a genius! I loved her spontaneity and her compassion for others”

Nerdy By Nature gave this a 3 out of 5, saying “I loved the idea of a fictionalized version of her life and her career and thought Rodale did a solid job with it. It felt like a nice homage to such a pioneering woman. I did wish some of the other characters felt as fleshed out as Nellie, but I still enjoyed them, especially the group of other women journalists Nellie befriends”

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | IndieBound | Powell’s | Target | Walmart | Waterstones (UK) | Booktopia (Australia) | Books-A-Million | Flipkart (India) | !ndigo (Canada) | Kobo | Audible | Google Books | Apple Books | Thrift Books | Book Depository | Abe Books | Audiobooks | Dymocks (Australia) | Blackwell’s (UK) | Third Place Books | Story on the Square | Book Outlet | San Francisco Book Review | Kinokuniya (Singapore) | Spark Book Fairs | | Biblio | McNally Robinson (Canada) | A Likely Story Bookstore

Check out all the other books featured this month on The Curated Bookshelf.

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8 thoughts on “Book Highlight: The Mad Girls of New York by Maya Rodale

      1. It’s fiction loosely based on Nellie Bly’s time undercover in an insane asylum. This is the first in a series about her life, but only this book is out so far.

        Liked by 1 person

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