The Woman They Could Not Silence is a sucker punch to the psyche! We all know about the injustices endured by women over the eons but this non-fiction recounting of the life and battles fought by an ‘insane’ housewife, Elizabeth Packard, is almost too much to believe!
Having been committed to an asylum in Jacksonville, Illinois in 1860 by her pastor husband for merely professing differing religious views, Elizabeth Packard began a life-long battle for the release, not only of herself, but of the many other women who were unfairly and unjustly incarcerated at the whim of their spouses/families. Unfathomable today, the laws of the land at that time allowed for this incredibly discriminatory treatment of women. Being a wife meant total submission to husband both in thought and deed. Any derivation from that expected behaviour could result in women being sent, against their will, to a home for the insane. With no real treatment options available, the facility superintendents were free to jail these women indefinitely.
Kate Moore’s recounting of Elizabeth Packard’s journey is based on entries from Packard’s own diaries, transcripts from court proceedings, journals of the superintendent in Jacksonville, Dr McFarland, and letters from her husband, Theophilus Packard.
Packard’s resilience, determination, good-heartedness and exceptional oratory skills were/are an inspiration, and women everywhere owe her a tremendous amount of gratitude for the freedom and rights we take for granted today!
Don’t be alarmed by the size of the book! Yes, it is 400+ pages but it reads quickly and easily. A good chunk of the end of the book is devoted to indexes, references and book club questions.
— Nancy C.