The Madwomen of Paris: A Novel (Hardcover)

The Madwomen of Paris: A Novel By Jennifer Cody Epstein Cover Image
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EDGAR AWARD FINALIST • “Epstein’s page-turning historical novel—an indictment of the medical establishment’s manipulation of women—remains eerily relevant and timely.”—Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Spectacular

Two women fall under the influence of a powerful doctor in Paris’s notorious nineteenth-century women’s asylum—a gripping novel inspired by true events, from the bestselling author of Wunderland.

After being dragged into the Salpêtrière asylum screaming, covered in blood, and suffering from amnesia, Josephine is diagnosed with what the nineteenth-century Parisian press has dubbed “the epidemic of the age”: hysteria. It’s a disease so uniquely baffling that Jean-Martin Charcot, the Salpêtrière’s acclaimed director, devotes popular lectures to it, using hypnosis to elicit fits and fantastical symptoms in front of rapt audiences. Young, charismatic, and highly susceptible to this entrancement, Josephine quickly becomes a favorite of the powerful doctor and the Parisian public alike. 

But her true ally at the Salpêtrière is Laure, a lonely ward attendant. As their friendship blossoms into something more, the two women find comfort and even joy together despite their bleak surroundings. Soon, Josephine’s memory returns, and with it images of a gruesome crime she’s convinced she’s committed. Ensnared in Charcot’s hypnotic web, she starts spiraling into seeming insanity, prompting a terrified Laure to plot their escape together. First, though, Laure must solve a grim mystery: Who, really, is the girl she’s grown to love? Is Josephine a madwoman . . . or a murderer?

Inspired by true events, expertly researched, and masterfully written, The Madwomen of Paris is a Gothic saga for the ages with themes that remain hauntingly resonant today.

About the Author

Jennifer Cody Epstein is the internationally bestselling author of The Painter from Shanghai, Wunderland, and The Gods of Heavenly Punishment, which won the Asian/Pacific American Honor Award for Literature for Adult Fiction. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Self, Mademoiselle, and others. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and an MA in international affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Epstein lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.

Praise For…

“Memorable characters, heartbreaking moments and intriguing details . . . this eye-opening novel has it all. [The novel] is a series of dramatic, dangerous events and shocking twists.”Woman’s World

“A haunting story of the cruel and misogynistic mental health system of late 19th-century Paris . . . [that] makes the gruesome details of what women had to endure at the infamous Salpêtrière all the more horrifying.”—Paste Magazine

“[A] haunting historical novel made all the more devastating by its basis in true events.”—Popsugar

“This engrossing novel explores all the different ways that young women are exploited and told they should appreciate the attention. The novel is well-written, thought-provoking, and immersive. A must-read for those interested in the treatment of women and the ethics of medicine. Highly recommend.”—Historical Novel Society

“Epstein has achieved her goal of immersing readers in the ‘stranger-than-fiction’ universe of late-19th-century Paris. At a time when women’s reproductive rights are under threat and people with unexplained medical conditions are routinely gaslit, The Madwomen of Paris provides a fascinating look back at a condition with modern-day resonance.”Science Magazine

“Epstein’s page-turning historical novel—an indictment of the medical establishment’s manipulation of women—remains eerily relevant and timely. . . . A brilliant read, highly recommended.”—Fiona Davis, New York Times bestselling author of The Spectacular

“This beautifully crafted historical from Epstein evokes the cruel and misogynistic mental health system of late 19th-century Paris. . . . Combining elegant prose, artfully chosen historical details, and convincing characterizations, this haunting narrative showcases Epstein at her best.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Laure and Josephine’s story reflects the raging obsession that people had with hysteria. . . . It speaks to the dangers of treatments used on patients and the vulnerable positions in which they were placed. . . . A gripping historical novel that describes the treatment patients received from Dr. Charcot at Salpêtrière.”Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593158005
ISBN-10: 0593158008
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: July 11th, 2023
Pages: 336
Language: English