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Women of Magdalene Hardcover – September 1, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Rosemary Poole-Carter captures in eloquent prose the compelling tale of a doctor's journey at the end of the Civil War as he seeks peace in a world still full of violence."  —John Biguenet, author, Oyster and The Torturer's Apprentice

"Fast-paced and compelling, you won't want to miss this book!"  —Christine Wiltz, author, The Glass House and The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld

"Rosemary Poole-Carter has written a real page-turner . . .  her novel proves that the dark and moody atmosphere of southern Louisiana is the perfect backdrop for a mysterious tale."  —The News Star: Louisiana's Top News Source

"With its principled, haunted hero, this is a well-written, dark gothic novel that doesn’t go over the top. It is highly recommended."  —The Historical Novels Review

"'Haunting' is the best way to describe Rosemary Poole-Carter’s latest novel . . . lyrical prose and elegant descriptions."  —Front Street Reviews

"The fictional Magdalene Ladies Lunatic Asylum in Rosemary Poole-Carter's darkly beautiful novel fits perfectly into a time period when the treatment of female mentally ill patients was likely to be neither moral nor effective."  —Malcolm R. Campbell, author, The Sun Singer

About the Author

Rosemary Poole-Carter is a playwright and a novelist. Her plays include Death Behind the Tabloids, Inconvenient Women, The Little Death, and Mossy Cape. Her novels include Juliette Ascending and What Remains. She lives in Houston, Texas.


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Kunati Inc.; First Edition edition (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601640145
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601640147
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,826,594 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rosemary Poole-Carter, author of Women of Magdalene, is a novelist and playwright whose work focuses on the history, mystery and eccentricity of
the American South. Her plays have been produced in the Unitied States and Europe, and include Mossy Cape, based on Southern folklore, and The Little Death, set in 19th century New Orleans. Her other novels are What Remains, an historical mystery, and Juliette Ascending, a young adult historical.

Rosemary is a member of the Historical Novel Society and Mystery Writers of America. A graduate of the university of Texas at Austin, she lives in Houston.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
With his first words, Dr. Robert Mallory, narrator and newly appointed physician of The Magdalene Ladies Lunatic Asylum, commands the reader's fullest attention, and rarely does his grip loosen as the fascinating theme of Rosemary Poole-Carter's historical novel, "Women of Magdalene", unfolds.

The young doctor, influenced by an undisclosed personal tragedy and further damaged by years in civil War field hospitals, takes charge of physical medicine at the asylum, but each time the physical complaints of a patient might overlap her supposed psychiatric condition, his employer Dr. Kingston, family friend and self-proclaimed benefactor, refuses to share information. Nor will the hostile staff permit Robert access to certain parts of the facility, and it is not long before he begins to realize the asylum does not function as it should. It will be necessary to find ways to correct the situation. How this unfolds makes up the core of the story, which then resolves itself as smoothly and realistically as could be hoped for.

Great story is one thing, but it's not always accompanied by equally good writing. Not to worry! By itself, Poole-Carter's wonderful prose is worth the price of admission. The laconic, measured flow of her dialogue and exquisitely organized narrative sentences recreate the feel and mood of the deep south without seeming to even try. If good writing makes the act of reading a pure pleasure, here is the proof in physical form.

To sum up, I love everything about this novel. I'm pleased to add my whole-hearted personal endorsement.

Art Tirrell is the author of the 2007 adventure novel, "The Secret Ever Keeps", of which reviewer Jerrold C. said, "...Ice cream might taste better, but I doubt it." See Art's reviews on Amazon.com at /product/1601640048
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Format: Hardcover
Poole-Carter's tale of a post-Civil asylum for insane women (The Magdalene Ladies Lunatic Asylum) is taught and skillful. The story follows Dr. Mallory, a surgeon fresh from the battlefield, as he makes his way in a new position at the asylum. He soon discovers something is tragically amiss in care of the women and the caregivers themselves.

Poole-Carter's descriptions remind me of Charles Fraziers' COLD MOUNTAIN. A great read on cold fall day.
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Format: Hardcover
I confess that when I pick up an unknown novel to read, I am quick to decide against it if I am not immediately drawn by the author's prose and his or her ability to hook me with the story. It's such a pleasure to discover a writer who has both style and a beautiful way of telling her story. Rpsemary Poole-Carter's language is so right for the period and place she describes. It is easy to imagine that we are hearing the story in the voice of a man who lived and died more than a century and a half ago. There's nothing exaggerated or mannered about the prose or the dialogue. It all rings true. And the story unfolds in its stately, measured way, without a false step. This is more To Kill a Mockingbird than Gone With the Wind, a little story about very big issues, told with sensitivity and grace.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Robert Mallory, a young physician in the post-Civil War South, is lucky to find a position in the Magdalene Ladies' Lunatic Asylum. A good hearted and tender young man, he is suffering from grief and guilt over his beloved sister's tragedy and what he has seen in his surgical work among the wounded soldiers. Reluctantly dismissing the drowning of one of the ladies as a likely accident, he proceeds to pour out his caring and skill to the other asylum women who, he eventually understands, have been conveniently disposed of by their families for various reasons. After Dr. Mallory realizes that the asylum's charismatic director Dr. Kingston has no interest in curing his patients, the dedicated young doctor gradually unfolds horrors that he has little ability to remedy. When he finally is assigned to escort the gentle silent patient Effie home to her family, she begins to speak to him and tells him the first of stories which will make it imperative that he return to discover the real truth of the ladies and their well-regarded director.

Beautifully written with a tender love story. I hope someone makes a film of this book! It deserves it! The languid defeated South, the hidden angers and brutalities and a group of innocent women locked away would make a compelling movie.

Stephanie Cowell
(author of MARRYING MOZART from Penguin Books)
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Format: Hardcover
Poole-Carter thinks up and writes wonderful plays so you just know her new novel will be atmospheric and spellbinding. And it is. I'd say move over just a bit Harper Lee ... and I know you're not a historical novelist ... but the immediately engaging tone, writing quality, and story of Women of Magdalene has the same mesmerizing quality. I'll fess up ... I worked in a psychiatric hospital when I was in high school ... over one hundred years after the war between the states ... but I still understand the personal, human, and professional dilemmas the environment produces. Rosemary Poole-Carter treats it with total understanding and the qualities of a bona fide writer ... and human.

Todd Sentell, author of Toonamint of Champions
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