Recommend to fans of historical fiction. What I love about Mahurin's books is how she takes a real incident and forges a fictional story that enhances the truth. Her books are well-researched and I always feel I've learned something new alongside enjoying the read. This book was inspired by an undercover operation carried out by a female journalist, Nellie Bly into the terrible conditions in a women's mental asylum on Blackwell Island, New York. But the story is about the women held in the asylum, especially Klara a young Jewish girl who had fled Russia after the Kiev Pogrom. Instead of finding understanding she is the victim of a robbery and sent to the asylum as without knowing English she was unable to defend herself. The story isn't for the faint-hearted. The inmates, sane and insane suffered barbaric cruelty. However, the women found friendship and hope amongst themselves and from a few kindly nurses. Satisfying, interesting read.
A really tough read, but absolutely brilliantly told. Historical abuse in such institutions was commonplace both in the UK and in the United States. It made my blood boil, reading how these poor women were institutionalised and the abuse they suffered at the hands of those who were supposed to care. As a nurse, knowing that this kind of abuse took place has always horrified me. The story is beautifully told and the characters developed throughout the book. Well researched and well written.
A different kind of Angel is particularly powerful as it is based on a true story. When a brave female journalist infiltrates a women’s asylum in 1887 she finds shocking malpractice and saves the lives of endless women who have been wrongfully institutionalized. On the way Mahurin details the lives of several ‘inmates’, for many of whom the asylum was the culmination of already horrific lives. The main protagonist being a Jewish woman from Russia who was the sole survivor of her family of the Russian pogrom. Told in dramatic voice and an affecting manner this is a gripping read that teaches much about history, humanity and the strength of the human spirit. Another incredible story from the pen of a sensitive and compassionate writer that will appeal to her growing fan base no doubt.
I am familiar with this author and enjoy reading her books. A Different Kind of Angel has all the elements of what makes a book memorable and intrigues a reader.
As soon as Klara's life is turned upside we enter into a story full of pain, persecution and sheer hell that she has to go through. Then on the other side we read of hope, love and loyalty. Mauhrin writes well and brings all these emotions into play in the novel. I really did feel for Klara all the way through the book and I could empathise with her in a lot of her emotions. Even when she was ever hopeful, "that maybe the day would bring unexpected good." We all have this type of wish and Klara, even though her life turned into a nightmare was ever hopeful.
Mahurin is also great at research and she demonstrates this in A Different Kind of Angel - and all her other books too! This historical fiction will intrigue, enthral and capture your heart.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It quickly draws you into this dark world as it explores the harrowing and vile conditions women in the asylum had to endure. The difficult issues that it deals with make it deeply emotional read.
This isn't the first historical fiction book I've read by this author so I knew I was in for a deeply emotional read. This one shines a light on Klara who survived organised ethnic massacres (pogroms) in Kiev in 1880s, emigrated to New York and found herself in a lunatic asylum for women on Blackwell's island, New York. Aware of reports of abuse, reporter Elizabeth Cochran goes undercover as Nellie Bly to expose what goes on inside the asylum. In there, she meets Klara, and her nightmares past and present are told. The flagrant brutality and sheer lack of humanity shows the extent to which some humans are willing to inflict pain and suffering when they know they can do it with impunity. Thankfully, the author balances off the brutality with acts of compassion, hope and human kindness. Well-researched and vividly written, which transports you into the bowels of the asylum. You'll be glad you're only visiting, and will be able to get out, but the images will stay with you. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction.
Like all of Paulette Mahurin's books, A Different Kind of Angel is an example of impeccably researched historical fiction. The writing is gripping and places you directly into the asylum beside Klara, resulting in an emotional and gripping journey. In many places, this is not an easy book to read- much of what Klara experienced is just so unjust and horrifying, but that makes this a very important book and one that everyone should read. A powerful work historical fiction, deeply based in fact.
A riveting and emotional read from one of my favorite authors! From the opening, shocking chapter, I couldn't put the book down. At times it was difficult to read of the inhumane treatment of Karla, who is wrongly imprisoned in a lunatic asylum. The author brilliantly and realistically describes the horrors of everyday life in the asylum to the degree I felt I was sharing Karla's experiences. Despite what Karla has to endure there are moments of light in the darkness, She makes friends with fellow inmates and a couple of the wardens try to make life easier. The evil wardens, both male and female, are really vile human beings and the author doesn't shirk from revealing the shocking details of their behavior. The later chapters when Nellie enters the asylum are uplifting and provides a positive ending. I urge everyone to read this excellent book!
Escaping from a pogrom in Russia, losing her father on the ship to America, young Klara is robbed on the streets of New York. Seeking help, her inability to speak English is taken as evidence of insanity and she is thrown into the terrifying city lunatic asylum where those employed to tend to those incarcerated there taunt and torture them while those paid to supervise the establishment starve the inmates of food, deprive them of clothing and neglect their hygiene. Care is non existent, and there is no possibility of release Yet Klara takes refuge from the terror in the memories of her family and home and gradually discovers that the broken fellow inmates have their own ways to survive and to help each other. She is fortunate. An undercover journalist - a character based on a real person - gains access to the asylum...is herself maltreated...and the solids hit the fan....the asylum is reformed, the abuses ended. Klara is released and finds happiness, able to celebrate the good rather than live the evil of her experiences. Paulette Mahurin does her research well, but is so good a writer that you are borne along on the story she relates, learning almost unconsciously about the period of which she writes. Though the issues she deals with are dark, in her books the human heart always triumphs.
A Different Kind of Angel is a special book, the best written by Paulette Mahurin to date. As ever, the author places emotion on every page and sets her characters in an authentic historical setting. Her greatest gift, however, is to hold a mirror up to society and through her skilful storytelling invite us to reflect on what we see, in the past, the present and our vision for the future.
There is pain and suffering in this story, but there is also hope. Paulette Mahurin’s central characters always walk with a sense of dignity and display the best of humanity. Monsters walk around in all aspects of society, often in positions of power, but Paulette Mahurin’s characters demonstrate that those who suffer and endure are far bigger people than the powerbrokers. They are the people our futures depend on because they carry with them a sense decency and hope.
Fittingly, a story set in an asylum is ultimately about the power of the mind. The mind can be your worst enemy or your best friend. I urge you to read this book because you take a lot from it; A Different Kind of Angel is far more than just a spellbinding story.