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The Girl Puzzle: A Story of Nellie Bly

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,137 ratings  ·  121 reviews
Her published story is well known. But did she tell the whole truth about her ten days in the madhouse?

Down to her last dime and offered the chance of a job of a lifetime at The New York World, twenty-three-year old Elizabeth Cochrane agrees to get herself admitted to Blackwell’s Island Lunatic Asylum and report on conditions from the inside. But what happened to her poo
Kindle Edition, 263 pages
Published May 5th 2019 by Crooked Cat Books / Darkstroke
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  1,137 ratings  ·  121 reviews

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Karen KK
Aug 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindleunlimited
An okay read. It was interesting what Nellie put herself through to 'get the story' but the writing wasn't that compelling.

Deacon Tom F
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book is very interesting and in many times shocking. A 1887 story heavily based on contemporary accounts about Nellie Bly’s time in the asylum.

To get a story our main character Nelly spends 10 days of psychological and physical abuse in an asylum. The story gives a brief but thorough insight into the way mental illness was treated in the 1890s time frame.

She’s an absolutely strong character who knows how to fight for what she wants — and goes and gets it.

A very good read.
Katharine Johnson
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an extraordinary book about a remarkable woman. I was fully immersed in the life of Elizabeth/Nellie and was inspired to find out more about the real person. The Girl Puzzle is obviously very well researched and due to the skill of the writing the historical facts blend effortlessly into the story. It’s written in two viewpoints - the younger Elizabeth and her secretary Beatrice thirty years later. Both characters are convincing and engaging. The dual timeline was admirably handled and I ...more
Davida Chazan
While it seems like Nellie Bly is a hot subject these days, not all novels about her, or that were inspired by her amazing work are the same. This new biographical, historical, women's fiction novel proves that, as you'll see from my review on my blog here.
Helen Hollick
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book has received a Discovering Diamonds Review:
Helen Hollick
founder #DDRevs
"Sophisticated and accomplished story-telling"
Amy Bruno
After having thoroughly enjoyed Kate Braithwaite's The Road to Newgate I was super excited to read her latest novel, The Girl Puzzle: A Story of Nellie Bly. And what a story it is!

In The Girl Puzzle we get two storylines - 1919 & 1887. In the 1887 timeline we have a young Nellie Bly just moved to New York to find work as a journalist, but it's a near impossible task at that time. She wants to do an expose on the conditions of mental hospitals, so she pretends to be mentally ill and gets taken to
C.P. Lesley
Nellie Bly is in some respects a household name, yet the passage of time has erased many of her accomplishments from popular memory. One of the first well-known female journalists, she wrote for Joseph Pulitzer’s acclaimed paper The World, traveled around the world in less than eighty days, married a millionaire, and pursued a celebrated career at a time when the idea of women with professions was still new.

But her first journalistic assignment—the one that landed her a job with The World when s
Pat Webb
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The puzzle that was Nellie Bly

Loved the story. The way the two timelines were handled was masterful. The entire story gave me a much greater appreciation for Nellie Bly herself than just reading a paragraph in a Wikipedia or encyclopedia article. The author drew a picture of a real live
woman with passion and quirks just like the rest of humanity.
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
A fascinating account of a woman whose story I had not heard.
Nellie Bly was a woman who dared to go that extra mile to prove herself in a man's world.
At least that's how it started.
Told alternating between the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, the story begins with Nellie getting into the facility for mentally ill women on Blackwell Island by pretending to have lost her sanity.
This is so that she can write the inside story and prove that she should be treated on par with any m
Abigail Bok
Mar 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Nellie Bly was an extraordinary woman, one of those headlong Americans the nation seemed to crank out in the years after the Civil War, as if half the characters from Mark Twain's books were magically brought to life. After a tough childhood full of dangers and upheavals, she carved out a space for herself in a reluctant newspaper industry as a muckraking reporter, in an age when such a career was unthinkable for a woman.

This novel focuses on one of her earliest exploits, when she got herself co
Ann Creel
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I thought I knew a lot about Nellie Bly. I think that at one time I read a different book based on her life. So I was hesitant at first to read another one, but I'm so glad I took the leap. This account is so fully realized and fascinating that I came away understanding so much more about Elizabeth (her real name) than I'd ever expected. In addition to that, it's simply a great read.

The author tells the story from the point of view of one of Nellie's assistants later in her life. During that ti
Vanessa Couchman
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed Kate Braithwaite's two previous novels, and so I was looking forward to reading her latest. I was not disappointed.

I hadn't heard of Nellie Bly, but this fictionalised account of her time as an undercover reporter in a New York insane asylum for women in 1887 really brings her alive. I'm not sure I would have liked her as a person - opinionated, abrasive, impatient - but Kate Braithwaite draws her character very well.

The story is told through a third-person memoir that Bly asks her se
Jun 19, 2019 marked it as to-read
Free on Kindle
Patricia Kitto
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I knew the name Nellie Bly and had a vague feeling that she was a woman of substance in the not too distant past but WOW - what a remarkable person! Although not an all encompassing biography, the Girl Puzzle was an excellent introduction to the more dramatic events of Nellie Bly’s life. Her grit, determination, courage, and spunk are all the more amazing when you consider the times she lived in and what she was up against. And as is true in a lot of historical fiction, several other people whos ...more
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Knowing about Nellie Bly, but knowing very little of her stay at Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum, this book grabbed my interest. Years ago my mother wrote in her autobiography (begun but not finished) that Miss Bly had been a dinner guest in her parents' home on Long Island, along with other notable people of that time, but she failed to give an exact date. It was, I know, when she was quite young. Alas, there is no mention of Miss Bly having dined there in this book, nor any reason that it sho ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was delighted when a GR group chose this book for its March BOM. I had already purchased it on Amazon a while back, but hadn't had an opportunity to get to it. It's nice to be able to read more historical fiction with strong woman protagonists during Women's History Month.

I had actually read a novel focusing on patients at the asylum where journalist Nellie Bly did a ten day undercover investigation pretending to have amnesia in 1887. That book was A Different Kind Of Angel by Paulette Mahur
Jun 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Good Read

This book is a true story about Nellie Bly, a pioneer of women's investigative journalism. The book flips from Bly as a twenty something year old inmate in NYC's madhouse to her as a middle aged woman. She feigned madness to get into the madhouse for a story and being there nearly drove her insane. She was an activist for several causes. She came from a tormented childhood, and the relationships between her and her family were always strained. The author's writing mechanics were good ex
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have heard the name Nellie Bly but didn't know anything about her which is why I chose this book from Book Bubs. I found it fascinating. She was a woman way ahead of her time! The book tells the story of her effort to get assigned to an insane asylum in the 1880's as well as the story 40 years later (or so) from her secretary's point of view as she is working for Nellie. The chapters go back and forth so at first it was a bit confusing. Some of the sections about the insane asylum were hard to ...more
Louise Sowter
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book fascinated me for many reasons. I enjoyed the detail of the story and the way it was portrayed. The history of asylums is both horrific and of value to us in present day. I will definitely be recommending this novel to fellow readers ... nothing other than brilliant and enthralling from the start
Rebecca N Bailey
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Disturbing and compelling

In this historical fiction. personal assistant Beatrice tells the story of her crusading employer Nellie Bly. The novel highlights the social and political reform desperately needed for the mentally ill in late 18th and early 19th C America.
Dec 01, 2019 rated it liked it
A simple, sweet, and very readable slightly-fictionalized telling of the story of Nellie Bly. I was familiar with Nellie Bly, though I’ve never read 10 Days in the Madhouse, so I enjoyed the telling, as well as the frame story. Not amazing in any way, but a nice little read for a holiday weekend.
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Girl Puzzle: A Story of Nellie Bly by Kate Braithwaite is the story of renowned journalist Nellie Bly or as she's also known Elizabeth Cochrane. I read this one because it was the March read for the Historical Fashionistas group here on Goodreads. Had I known what it was about I would have read it much sooner. These types of books are right up my historical fiction alley and throw in the mental health aspect and I'm definitely on board.

Elizabeth Cochrance wants nothing more than to become a
Jennifer Lara
Feb 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Girl Puzzle by Kate Braithwaite is the story of Nellie Bly, the journalist who broke through the male dominated field with her expose of Blackwell’s Island in 1887. Told between two timelines, 1919-1922 told though the eyes of her secretary, Beatrice Alexander, as Nellie is nearing the end of her life, and through Nellie’s eyes with the events up to her stay at the asylum, her experience while there and the events which occurred after. Born Elizabeth Jane Cochran in 1864, Miss Bly was a puzz ...more
Char Freund
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Just read the original, Ten Days in a Madhouse by Nellie Bly.

Received a kindle alert about this book stating that it offered new insight. But it really did not add many details. It was just a rehash of Nellie’s work.

And scroll down to the other reason I was disappointed. I’m adding some space as it is a slight spoiler.

So, this book is written from the perspective of Beatrice, who was supposedly Nellies private secretary. That’s the ruse that she knew more info. But it isn’t until the epilogue th
Jul 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I really didn't know much about Nellie Bly before reading this book and I was looking forward to filling that gap. Unfortunately I found the story bland and not nearly as intriguing as I had anticipated. I think it's because the author moved between an account of Nellie's first big story undercover at a women's insane asylum, and her secretary's account of her final years. It just didn't work for me, and even the appalling descriptions of the asylum somehow failed to come to life. I found it int ...more
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book about a topic that I knew so little about. The main character was intriguing, the storyline was fascinating, and the suspense of the situation kept me page-turning. The beginning and the end were a little slower, but that was okay. Was the writing exemplary? Probably not. But I was so engrossed in the story that I didn't notice or care.
This story makes me want to go and read the actual accounts of the situation that Nellie Bly found herself in. I'd like to read her fi
J.G. Harlond
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The cover and title of this novel are worth thinking about before one opens the book itself. The author is telling us that at one level it is historical fiction, a tale told about a past epoch and how people lived then; at another, it is a story of someone’s life but not a biography. It is a story: the author’s interpretation of what happened to Nellie Bly. Who in turn was not only Nellie Bly but Elizabeth Cochrane, a young woman shaped by the lamentable circumstances of her parents’ life – whic ...more
Schuyler Wallace
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it

Nellie Bly was the pen name of Elizabeth Jane Cochran, a determined and enterprising American newspaper reporter in the late 1880s. In 1887 she convinced the brass at “The New York World” to allow her to take an assignment to fake insanity and get committed to and report on conditions at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island in the East River of New York City.

Kate Braithwaite, raised in Edinburgh and having lived in parts of England and Canada before settling in Pennsylvania, is a hi
Peter Thomson
Apr 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found this an entertaining and educating piece of literary, creative non-fiction. Nellie Bly was a real person. When I saw the name on this book I thought she was the Nellie Bly out of the mid- nineteenth century folk song ‘Frankie and Johnny’. How wrong! The Girl Puzzle tells the story of one of the woman who have stamped their mark on history by achieving her ambition and advancing the cause for gender equality in the workplace in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Elizabeth C
Kate Rock
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nellie Bly was a strong and courageous heroine. I have always been fascinated by her story and the fact that she committed herself to an asylum to report on the poor conditions and to get the story and be a respected journalist in the New York Journalism scene. AT age 23 in 1887!!! What a woman! I am drawn to stories about asylums, especially in the historical setting, so I was thrilled to read this book. It did not disappoint. This is everything you want in a historical novel. The research by A ...more
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Historical Fictio...: March 2020 The Girl Puzzle *NO SPOILERS* 10 45 Mar 24, 2020 05:09PM  

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Thank you for visiting my Goodreads Author page! Whether you're new to my books, or familiar with the kind of stories I write, it's lovely to see you here. My latest (May 2019) is The Girl Puzzle – a story of Nellie Bly. It's based on the true story of a brave and ambitious young woman who put her life at risk to break barriers and gain a foothold in the male-dominated newspaper industry of late n ...more

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