The Gray Chamber

The Gray Chamber

by Grace Hitchcock

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Overview



True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crime
Fiction Based on Strange, But True, History

Will Edyth prove her sanity before it is too late?
 
On Blackwell’s Island, New York, a hospital was built to keep its patients from ever leaving.
 
With her late parents’ fortune under her uncle’s care until her twenty-fifth birthday in the year 1887, Edyth Foster does not feel pressured to marry or to bow to society’s demands. She freely indulges in eccentric hobbies like fencing and riding her velocipede in her cycling costume about the city for all to see. Finding a loophole in the will, though, her uncle whisks Edyth off to the women’s lunatic asylum just weeks before her birthday. And Edyth fears she will never be found.
 
At the asylum she meets another inmate, who upon discovering Edyth’s plight, confesses that she is Nellie Bly, an undercover journalist for The World. Will either woman find a way to leave the terrifying island and reclaim her true self?
 

Also Look for:
White City by Grace Hitchcock (March 2019)
Pink Bonnet by Liz Tolsma (June 2019)
Yellow Lantern by Angie Dicken (August 2019)
Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear (March 2020)
 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643522357
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date: 01/01/2020
Series: True Colors Series
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 347,682
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.38(h) x 0.00(d)

About the Author


Grace Hitchcock is the author of three novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. The White City is her debut novel and releases March 2019 with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcock.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.

~ Leonardo da Vinci

New York City, Fall 1887

Edyth Foster's limbs burned as she pedaled down Fifth Avenue, her white skirts whipping in the wind while she wove around pedestrians and carriages, ignoring their shouts of protest. Rounding the corner, she slowed her velocipede and overheard two women gasp and comment on her lack of chapeau and corset. Biting her lip, Edyth lifted her hand to her curls, realizing that she had once again forgotten her hat. Oh well. That is the least peculiar thing about me. She giggled at the thought and parked her bicycle at the side of the building before hurrying up the steps to the fencers' club, her heart pounding with anticipation of seeing Raoul Banebridge.

Pausing in the small women's dressing chamber, a room which was seldom used by any other woman than herself, she fitted her padded buckskin plastron over her chest before donning a matching buckskin gauntlet to protect herself from the thrust of a blade. Adjusting the burgundy sash over her skirt, she grabbed her wire mask, exited the dressing chamber, and stepped into the fencing area, scanning the room for her handsome instructor. The familiar scent of leather and sweat greeted her, but the men continued their exercises, no longer turning in shock at her presence as they had a decade ago when her father first brought her as a girl of fourteen. She had been a rather plump child, but the years of fencing had turned her muscles lean and strong.

Tucking an ebony wisp of hair behind her ear, she swung her arms across her body, stretching her muscles, and met the dark gaze of Bane. The clanging of steel against steel dulled as he strode across the room.

"You're late again, Edyth." Bane tossed her a foil sword, which she caught with ease. "When are you going to surrender your velocipede and take your perfectly respectable carriage to class?" Whipping her blade into position, she grinned. "Never. Besides, cycling warms my muscles to save me from stretching forever. Now, if you will be so kind, en garde!"

He shook his head and, with a laugh, assumed a defensive stance and gave her the signal that he was ready. "Pret."

"Let's fence. Allez," she responded, and lunged.

Bane parried, his eyes twinkling. "Come now, Edyth, is that the best you've got? Were you up past the wee hours painting again? Perhaps you should heed your instructor and warm up before jumping into a bout with him."

Ignoring him, Edyth stepped forward on the narrow piste as Bane darted backward on the marked-off area, once again blocking her attack that was aimed between his shoulder and blade. He made his counterattack, which she parried, proud that she could hold her own against New York's finest fencing master. But of course the moment she had such a thought, the tip of his blade met her waist as the timekeeper called the three-minute mark of their first round.

Grabbing a towel, she dabbed at the light sheen on her forehead, the weight of her request pressing down on her. "So, what did you decide about coming to the dinner party tonight? Uncle Boris has informed me on multiple occasions how rude it is of you to keep us waiting so long for your answer to our invitation."

He groaned and raked a hand through his shoulder-length blond hair that boasted the most delightful curl at the ends. "You know how much I hate those social gatherings, Edyth. Mothers never fail to present their daughters as a marriageable option, and I'm too busy with the fencing club to be distracted with taking care of a female's tender emotions."

"But you understand that I must attend, and as it is hosted by my uncle's new wife in honor of her daughter's return from living in Paris for the past four years, I won't know any of Mrs. Foster's society friends and it will be excruciatingly dull if you aren't there," she said all in one breath. "Please? If you do, I'll have the cook bake that lemon poppy seed bread that you enjoy so much and send it home with you tonight."

His lips curled in a grimace. "Fine. But this is the last time, Edyth, and I want two loaves."

She dipped her torso down, flipping her arms behind her in an exaggerated bow. "Done. Thank you, kind sir, for your gracious acceptance of my invitation."

"What are friends for except for attending boring parties in exchange for food? Minute break is up." He motioned her back onto the piste.

Friends. She gritted her teeth. He had been a friend to her since she had started coming to this club when he, at eighteen, was a champion, a man poised to purchase the club, while she was still an awkward girl. Their families knew of one another from society's intimate circle, and with Edyth's lessons, dinner invitations soon became a common occurrence between the two families and the pair found they enjoyed one another's company. And when her parents died the following year, he had become her closest friend, but Edyth couldn't help but feel that he still saw her as that pudgy girl of fourteen, not a woman of nearly five and twenty. She shook her arms to free herself of her morose thoughts and loosen her muscles. She sent him what she hoped was a brilliant smile and bowed with her foil before stepping onto the piste once again to finish their bout. As usual, Bane won, but closing the gap between the scores always made Edyth feel like it was a success no matter how many points he bested her by.

After an hour-long lesson, she slipped out of the fencing area and spied her wild hair in the looking glass of the women's area. Edyth cringed and ran her hands over her braid that had tumbled from her coiffure before smoothing her white fencing gown, its loose structure feeling more natural to her than any day gown. Maybe that's part of the problem of why we are only friends. But even if she did relinquish her comfortable gowns for the more stylish ones, Bane still might not see her as a woman. With a dismissive shrug, she decided not to change her clothes or adjust her hair, as she was certain cycling would undo whatever she managed to fix.

Leaving her gear on her designated shelf, Edyth hopped onto her velocipede and pedaled home, reveling in the crisp air, her long braid whipping behind her back. When the snow fell, she would have no other choice but to take her carriage to and from the fencing club, but as soon as it melted, she would be back on her two wheels. She was used to the wide-eyed stares from women as she passed by, the shocked expressions of men, and the gleeful pointing of the children as she cycled around them. She didn't necessarily care whether or not she fit into society's idea of the perfect gentlewoman. She was one of the fortunate ones, one of the few women who had her future secured without needing to put on a facade to secure a husband's pocketbook. And she was aware enough by now that any man who did attempt to woo her was, in fact, after the significant inheritance left to her by her parents.

Not a day went by that she did not long to be in her father's and mother's embrace or think of that horrific accident. She was supposed to have gone ice skating with them that day. But she had caught a cold and stayed at home. Shaking her dark thoughts, she focused on the fiery foliage of the sugar maples and scarlet oaks and the purple and golds of the green ash trees, attempting to enjoy the fall months while she could, when something gray stirring in the bushes to her left caught her eye. Catching her foot on the sidewalk, Edyth slowed her velocipede and hopped off, wheeling her bike beside her.

Passersby complained when she parked her bicycle against the tree and stooped down to the bush on her knees to find a bedraggled, mewing kitten. "Oh, you poor little dear." She scooped the kitten into her arms and cuddled it to her neck, offering the little one warmth as its frantic mewing increased. She looked about for a mother or siblings, but seeing none, she held the kitten in one hand and wheeled her bicycle home with the other.

Slipping through the side iron gate that was left open for the staff and deliveries, Edyth parked her velocipede and used the service entrance. Waving to the staff who, by now were quite used to her strange comings and goings, did not even blink at the sight of her below stairs.

"Miss Foster, what is this? Another stray?" The butler's graying wiry brows stooped along with his deep voice.

"Harrison, how could I not take him in?" She lifted the kitten up to her cheek and nuzzled him, her nose crinkling at the putrid smell clinging to his fur.

"Because you have already taken in two strays this year and one last. I do not know how these kittens keep finding you, but this has to stop at some point, miss. Four felines are simply too many for one household. Where are we going to keep them all? They will destroy the furnishings."

"Well, I suppose we can adjust one of the guest rooms to suit them, don't you think? Perhaps we could pull some old items from the servants' quarters to furnish it and replace the worn things with new ones that are more to the servants' liking?"

He sighed and rubbed his brows with his thumb and forefinger, causing the wild hairs to stick out every which way. "We wondered when you would get to the point of giving your cats a room, but we had hoped you would be fifty and have a few gray hairs before it happened."

She rose on her tiptoes and pressed a kiss to Harrison's withered cheek. "I am a spinster, so four cats in total really isn't all that much, now is it?"

"Will you ever reach a number that is too many?" He smirked, making him look far younger than his sixty years.

"I think perhaps nine would be too many. Please see to it that Katie gives Michelangelo a bath." She deposited the kitten into his hands. "Thank you, Harrison," she called over her shoulder, and darted up the tight, winding staircase to her bedroom on the second floor, nodding and smiling to any maid in passing.

Her leather fencing shoes padded on the lush carpet of the hall leading to her chambers, but before she reached her suite, a shrill voice came from the library that could only be her new aunt expressing herself as she was known to do on occasion. Was wedding a beautiful woman worth enduring such antics, Uncle?

"What do you mean? You have put up with this nonsense for years and the answer was right here in front of you this whole time and you did not even see it?" Mrs. Foster's high-pitched shriek pierced Edyth's ears from behind the mahogany door.

She sucked in her breath, tempted to continue on to her rooms when another stream began. But while she and Uncle Boris had never been as close as she would wish, Edyth didn't feel right about leaving him to fend for himself if she could distract his new bride from unbridling her wrath. With a soft knock, she opened the door to her father's dark study that she rarely used. Father had kept it well stocked with books from generations of collectors, but she couldn't afford the fascination. Books were too quiet a pastime. She needed to be in motion or fiercely concentrating on something, else her thoughts would come knocking.

"Uncle Boris? Is everything well?" The man who looked so much like her father rose from a leather wingback chair facing the crackling fireplace with a stack of official-looking documents gripped in his fist.

"Everything is fine, Edyth." His gaze traveled over her wild hair and fencing ensemble, his thin lips pressing into a firm line.

Edyth shifted uncomfortably. He had never looked at her like this before he brought Mrs. Foster home last summer. And now for the protest in three, two, one —

Mrs. Foster gestured to Edyth's attire and heaved a sigh. "Really, Boris, is this not all the proof you need? Your niece is cycling about the city dressed in this outlandish gown for all the world to see when she could have the latest of fashions shipped in from Paris and be driven in one of her many carriages like a proper lady."

Uncle Boris lifted his finger to his lips and quirked a brow at his bride. "Too much, dear. All in good time."

Edyth surveyed the room to see if a half-empty crystal decanter was near at hand to make sense of why they were both behaving so oddly.

"But your aunt is correct, Edyth. It is hardly appropriate for people to see you in such attire. Upon your velocipede, your ankles are certainly in danger of being exposed with every turn of the wheel."

Mrs. Foster pursed her lips. "It is bad enough you wear that ensemble at the fencing club, or that you are a member at a fencing club for that matter, but you flaunt your lack of regard of fashion and etiquette to the entire city."

Edyth swallowed back a reminder to her new aunt that she and Uncle Boris were only living on Fifth Avenue because they were residing in Edyth's mansion, not her uncle's. She had never begrudged her uncle a generous allowance from her trust, but his bride was making it rather a burden to house them. Four more months and I will have the right to my fortune and the ability to set Uncle up in his own apartment and be free from his so-called guardianship. She ran her fingertips over the calluses on her palm and drew a deep breath. Lord, give me strength to be kind. "I apologize if I have caused you embarrassment."

Her aunt gave a short laugh and was about to say something when Uncle Boris placed his hand on her shoulder, halting her onslaught. Mrs. Foster pinched the bridge of her nose, mumbling something about it being all Boris's fault for not doing his due diligence. She lifted her palms up and twitched her lips into a sharp smile. "Well, I'm hoping Lavinia's influence will smooth out your many rough edges, Edyth. Your cousin is to arrive within the hour, so I suggest you leave us to our own business and change into something appropriate. Your uncle and I have too much to discuss to stop and address your many faults."

Edyth clenched and unclenched her fists, swallowing her smoldering response. As Mother used to quote, a gentle answer turns away wrath. She dipped into the lowest curtsy she could manage and answered dutifully, "Your wish is my command, oh my queen."

* * *

Raoul Banebridge adjusted his worn inverness coat, his focus on the floor-length windows ablaze with candlelight, and braced himself against a gust that whipped his umbrella nearly inside out. If Edyth wasn't such a good family friend ... He cleared his throat and pushed aside the discomfiture of not knowing many in attendance for the chance of a fancy meal. Having spent all his hours and small inheritance on his fencing club, he had little time to spare for dinner parties. In the beginning days when he was building his number of students, Bane attended every party — those he was invited to and those he wasn't. He had managed to procure invitations through Edyth until she had sworn off high society events and could not be persuaded to change her mind. But now that the fencing club had grown in popularity with the elite set, it required all his attention, and parties had become things of the past.

Strolling around the other guests' arriving carriages, he nodded to the doorman and handed his black umbrella, top hat, and coat to the young butler who stood just inside the marble foyer. Sounds of laughter flowed out of the front parlor followed by the clinking of glasses when Edyth flew around the corner in the most outlandish blue-and-green plaid dress he had ever beheld. While he didn't mingle too much with his set anymore, he knew most women chose to wear more demure gowns. This tartan was something new altogether. Bane's gaze went to her hair and he saw that she was trying something different with her coiffure, but the curls, which he assumed she had attempted to tame, had become quite frizzled.

"You're here! I've been watching for you," she breathed, snatching his hand in hers before remembering herself and dropping it and executing a perfect curtsy.

"Of course I am here. You begged me to attend. What kind of teacher would I be if I disappointed the one student who has attended every single one of the fencing club's expositions, demonstrations, and whatnot?" His little friend was nothing if not supportive of his fencing school, but he did not wish to tell her how much it meant to him, lest more invitations follow now that the Parisian stepcousin had come to the city.

"Your hair looks dashing pulled back into a queue, Bane." She reached out and brushed off his coat, her fingertips lingering for a second, then two before she folded her hands in front of her skirts.

"Thank you. And you look ..." He motioned to her attire and settled with, "Uh, very clean."

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Gray Chamber"
by .
Copyright © 2020 Grace Hitchcock.
Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Gray Chamber 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
GailHollingsworth 12 hours ago
I’m really enjoying this true colors series by various authors. Each one is based on an actual true historical story of American crime but is fictionalized in a novel. The Gray Chamber deals with the institutionalizing of women to lunatic asylums and their horrific treatment in the late 1800s. Some were put away by greedy relatives, like Edyth in this story, who was not mentally ill. In 1887, Nellie Bly an undercover journalist, went into the asylum at Blackwell’s Island to seek out information on the welfare of the patients. I read of her accounts by Googling her name. Everything Edyth and her cousin Lavinia and friend Bane try to do to help Edyth, is thwarted by her greedy Uncle Boris. He will inherit her massive estate if she dies or is committed to an asylum. Edyth is filled with despair and hopelessness. Follow her story and the true eye-opening treatment of those women in The Gray Chamber. Five stars! I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to write a review positive or otherwise.
CarolJo 1 days ago
My heart certainly went out to Edyth Foster who will inherit her parents' fortune on her twenty-fifth birthday! Edyth has never been the usual society lady in 1887 New York since she enjoys fencing and riding her velocipede! I could not imagine her guardian uncle having her placed in a "women's lunatic asylum" so he could obtain her fortune! Edyth's fencing instructor, "Bane" Banebridge was an amazing hero once he realized he loved Edyth. You will learn much about the horrors of early lunatic asylums in this fiction based on a true story! I found The Gray Chamber to be a very interesting story. I have enjoyed reading most of the True Colors series.I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and NetGalley and was under no obligation to post a review.
BrendaLee 5 days ago
I have read several of the books that are part of this True Crime Series and I have enjoyed them all. It’s hard to wrap my mind around such people that can do things to other people and not feel condemned. Money makes folks do a lot of things. Edyth’s uncle was just that kind of person. Putting her in the lunatic asylum where he could get her money. When I read the description of the book I thought “Yikes”, that would be a terrible fate. Hitchcock did a great job with the characters and even in the worst circumstances love and faith shows through. There are some books I want to read as fast as I can to find out what happens and this is one of them. This historical romantic suspense book will keep you flipping those pages. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Publisher but was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are
Janet55 8 days ago
The Gray Chamber is an absolutely spine tingling and chilling tale of the life of Edyth Foster. Set in 1887, Edyth is a young woman of wealth who was taken in by her uncle after the death of her parents as a young girl. Up until she was 25 years old Edyth had no desire to marry and spent her time fencing with her friend Bane Banebridge she has known since childhood. Uncle Boris realizes time is running out and finding a loophole in her family's will he has Edyth admitted into a women's lunatic asylum so he can retain control of her estate and vast fortune. With Edyth out of the way Uncle Boris and his wife can live off of Edyth's fortune. Edyth endures many days and nights of torture under the hands of the nursing staff only to discover how far her uncle would go to rid the world of her. Realizing his love her his childhood friend Bane will leave nothing to chance to find his love of a lifetime Edyth. Based on historically accurate details Grace Hitchcock writes a work of fiction that will have the reader literally glued to the pages of the book. This is a five star book!
Bookluvr4vr 8 days ago
The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock novel is part of the True Colors series. I read a previous book a few months ago called the Yellow Lantern and this book, although not as intense, was equally captivating. Edyth Foster is nearing her 25th birthday and has been very self-absorbed after her parents untimely death when she was a child. She has a way to get the things she wants by flaunting her money around. Edyth sees no need for a husband or to blend in with society norms. However, her Uncle Boris has some other plans. By taking notice to some of Edyth’s peculiarities (dressing unusual, fencing with her friend Bane, collecting orphan cats, showing a short tempered, and drawing three hands reaching out to each other), her Uncle Boris decides to have some doctors inconspicuously spy on her whereabouts in order to gain Edyth’s wealth. Edyth is soon committed to the women’s lunatic asylum on New York’s Blackwell Island. The accommodations are horrendous, but she soon finds a friends named, Nellie and Poppy. However, the situation doesn’t get better for Edyth. She wonders if anyone will find her in this awful place. When Edyth’s long time friend, Bane, discovers the oddities of her disappearance, Bane starts going on a hunt to look for her. Will Bane find Edyth in time? Or will Edyth escape on her own? Will Boris be able to cover up a conspiracy and gain the inheritance? You will have to grab a copy for yourself. I’m happy to say I really did enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the previous book in the series. It was thrilling and exciting. I even wanted more to read. This book was a easy read and was something a person that likes history might want to read. I want to thank Barbour Publishing and the author for allowing me to be able to share this book with all of you. I received a complimentary copy of the this book from Barbour Publishing and the was under no obligation to post a review. I hope you enjoyed the book review today and will purchase a copy to read or go to the library and find this great novel series.
Sbargo 8 days ago
The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock Edyth Fisher has been independent for quite some time with the exception of living under the care of her Uncle Boris. He is her trustee until her 25th birthday. She becomes a master at the skill of fencing. Not only does the sport consume much of her heart, but so does her instructor, Bane, who doesn’t seem to know she is alive. The closer it gets to Edyth’s 25th birthday, Uncle Boris cooks up a scheme to have her committed to the hospital on Blackwell Island. If she is gone, the inheritance reverts to his family. The Gray Chamber was an excellent example of courage and triumph over evil as Edyth and Bane fight for a new found love, Edyth fights for her sanity and for her own survival through the torture of the terrible Gray Chamber. She also discovers many secrets about her own family. This was such an interesting story, and I finished the book in almost one sitting. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
Nicnac63 8 days ago
Wow! It’s still only January and I’m putting a second book on my 2020 Favorite’s list! The Gray Chamber was a surprise to me. Some of the other books (by various authors) in the True Colors: Historical Stories of American Crime series didn’t wow me, but this one did. Fully! I quickly became invested in the story, connected with the characters, and stayed up way into the night to finish the book. I adored Edyth Foster, the quirky, one-of-a-kind heiress of her family’s fortune. Not because of her affluence, but because she was adorable, generous, merciful, fun, self-assured, and highly likable—in spite of it. From her unconventional clothing, hobbies (fencing) and choice of travel (riding a velocipede) she is one of the most charming, eccentric main character’s I’ve ever met. I love how she pined for Bane (her fencing instructor) since she was just a child, yet never acted on it. I also love how she was comfortable in her own skin, not worrying if others liked or understood her. Bane is incredibly interesting too. He is confident, yet sometimes clueless, and has a good heart. He wants and deserves a loving and caring life-partner but building his business had taken so much of his time and energy and he fears he might’ve sacrificed too much time on his business life rather than his personal. The lunatic asylum on Blackwell Island, as well as its Gray Chamber, is just as much a character as it is a setting. It holds such a dark and cumbersome atmosphere, committing crimes that are even more atrocious than fiction can capture. There were other incredible characters—good and bad—that made such a strong impact. I could picture every scene and feel every emotion throughout this story. Nothing felt far-fetched, and the historical inspiration for the story will forever be ingrained in my memory. I’m so impressed with Grace Hitchcock’s storytelling gift and look forward to seeking out more of her work. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour and was under no obligation to post a review.
Savitri V 9 days ago
I would like to thank Goodreads giveaways, the author and Barbour Books for an e-ARC in exchange for a honest review. The story is set around the late 1800s in New York City. A New York City heiress, Edyth Foster is a forward woman of her times; she fences effortlessly, rides a velocipede instead of her carriage and makes her voice heard much to the chagrin of society around her, including her uncle Boris. Edyth's uncle and his wife, who have a keen eye on Edyth's inheritance, devise an evil plan to forcibly subjugate Edyth to a mental asylum. Meanwhile, love is blossoming between Edyth and Raoul Banebridge, her fencing instructor, while both are completely unaware of the fate that is looming for Edyth. While the novel is heavy in old Hollywood-esque romance, the crucial two underpinnings of the novel were: 1) how women were treated as property by the male family members and were forcibly subjected to a mental asylum without a proper diagnosis and 2) Mental asylums were run by corrupt and ineffective doctors and staffs who tortured asylum dwellers unbeknownst to the world outside. This book was a work of historical fiction but the author discusses the true crime that was behind the making of this book in her epilogue, including some real characters that were inserted in this novel. I enjoyed the old English dialect and structure in this book, which I sometimes miss in modern-day books. The book really got me thinking on issues of women's rights and the history of mental health.
CherryPie0420 12 days ago
Mental health is a sensitive subject in our culture today. Great care is taken as we realize just how powerful the mind is, and what we need to do to care for it. I have heard of asylums and the horrors that abounded in many in the past, but nothing has really gave me pause like The Gray Chamber did. How do you prove yourself sane and falsely accused in a place that is trying to provoke and prove the opposite? While Edyth's character was rather eccentric for a woman at that time, she was by no means crazy, and I loved seeing her strength when faced with such adversity and hopelessness. The relationship between her and Bane, so playful and yet so passionate, was a breath of fresh air. The fight in this story is strong but the injustice had me audibly growling in frustration, craving justice on every page. The horrors that many endured at the hands of people who are supposed to be caretakers is unfathomable, the purest form of evil, and I am so thankful that Nellie Bly had the courage to do what she did, going in the trenches, exposing Blackwell's Island for what it really was, and helping to bring about real change. I cannot say enough about this incredible series and am already reading another volume as I write this review. How the authors are able to mix historical fact and fiction so seamlessly is truly breathtaking, and I am glad that these stories are once again being brought to light. *I have voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the Barbour Publishing through NetGalley. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest, and my own.
BMace 13 days ago
It is 1887 in New York City. Miss Edyth Foster is an heiress, having lost her parents to an accident many years earlier. Refusing to follow convention, she cycles around the city on her velocipede, spends her time at the fencing club enhancing her fencing abilities, sketching and painting all the while refusing to dress in the style befitting her status. In that time, it was all too easy to pay off doctors, etc. to have them diagnose a person as insane, who would then be sent to Blackwell’s Island where there was little likelihood that they would ever be released from. Read on to learn of one such atrocity which was well documented by a newspaper columnist who allowed herself to be committed in order to bring about real change. Would Edyth manage to escape or was she destined to remain moving between the Lodge and the Gray Chamber of horror? Can she learn to leave her future in God’s capable hands? I received a copy of this book through Barbour Publishing, NetGalley and CelebrateLit. All impressions and comments are my own and were in no way solicited.
DixieJudy 13 days ago
This is a historical romance about American crimes that were committed in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Hitchcock has based her fiction on strange but true crimes committed in 1887. This one deals with an insane asylum on Blackwell Island in New York. Thus it insured that none could escape as the only way was a ferry to ride and of course they couldn’t do that. There was a lighthouse with a beacon if they attempted to swim…..The story deals with a young heiress who is in the care of her uncle until her 25th birthday, which is only a few months away. Through devious means and much money he successfully has her committed to the asylum with the promise of the doctors that they can do a treatment that will erase her memory forever, thus insuring that she will always be held there. Hitchcock has done much research about the asylum on Blackwell island and has written a most interesting novel with very believable characters. There is danger, intrigue and a delightful romance also to warm the heart. She describes the horrid conditions and abuse these poor souls faced daily with no hope of ever leaving. You will not want to put this book down. ……. I received a complimentary copy of this book free from Barbour Publishing, Inc., and was under no obligation to write a review.
knit4snow 13 days ago
This book was very fascinating. An interesting read if you like Alfred Hitchcock. I received a copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
FHlady 13 days ago
Reminding me of the old Alfred Hitchcock or Twilight Zone TV shows, this is definitely a suspense filled novel that leaves you with chills. Edyth Foster is a quirky young woman. She loves riding her velocipede (think old fashioned spider bike - big wheel in front little wheel at the back) and is a accomplished woman fencer! Her best friend is Raoul Banebridge, her fencing instructor. Edythe is a extremely wealthy orphan who has been raised by her uncle who has now married a lady who has no use for Edythe except for her money. Her uncle uses her eccentricities to have her committed to the New York City Insane Asylum on Blackwell's Island. Hitchock has obviously done extensive research on this mental institution as well as delving into the famous Nelly Bly's report on the 10 days she spent there undercover. This book is not for the faint of heart as it vividly describes the daily lives of the women assigned there and the absolutely horrid treatment they are given, but it is not the focus of the story. The focus is the continuing efforts of her friend "Bane" who is trying to locate the woman with whom he realizes he has fallen in love. The only thing that keeps Edyth sane is the growth of her faith during all of the tragedies that face her. Based on true stories, this book is one that makes you realize that the idea of a "throw away" society can be traced back many years. **I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Books through NetGalley. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this revie
Sandra0808 13 days ago
I was hooked from the start and couldn’t put this book down until I finished. Edyth Foster is set to inherit her parents’ fortune on her twenty-fifth birthday. Her parents died when she was younger and her Uncle Boris became her guardian. Edyth enjoys eccentric actives for her time like fencing and riding her velocipede through the park. She could care less about fashion or her place in polite society. The one thing she does care deeply about is her fencing instructor and childhood friend, Bane. Uncle Boris has now remarried and his new wife has her eye on Edyth’s fortune. Finding a loophole in the will, Uncle Boris and his wife convince doctors that Edyth is insane and they have her committed to Blackwell’s Island lunatic asylum. Edyth is whisked away just as her friendship with Bane is starting to blossom into a romantic relationship. Now she may die alone in the atrocious asylum where patients are subjected to horrific abuse and treatments. Can she hold on until Bane finds her and plans her escape? From the start, the tension ratchets up and as soon as Edyth is committed to the asylum, you feel the injustice and outrage. Readers stay immersed until the conclusion to see what happens to Edyth and those who have wronged her. Hitchcock does a masterful job of suspense building and hooking the reader. This is a very strong addition to the True Colors series. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
floraljoy 13 days ago
Epic and heart wrenching: What an amazing book! The writing style was great, with the story flowing well and it drew me in right from the very beginning. It was disturbing and difficult to read at times due to the injustice and sad subject matter; yet I wanted to keep going in order to see how things turned out. There is plenty of angst and it wrenches your emotions but it is also a story about trusting and relying on God during hardships.The treatment of women and the mentally ill (actual and falsely accused) was shocking and deplorable. It made me count my blessings and appreciate anew all that has been bestowed upon me! I enjoyed reading about spunky and quirky Edyth and the love and dedication bestowed upon her by Blane. All in all an enlightening and enjoyable read. I received a free copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review. All opinions expressed are solely my own.
Deana0326 14 days ago
This story is one that will stay with you for many years. The details are very terrifying at times and it brought me to tears. I can’t begin to imagine the horror these women faced every day in a place that abused patients and caused deaths that were painful and inhumane. Edyth is a wonderful character who does things other women disapprove of. I loved learning about fencing and how there were women who were gifted in this area. Greed is the main theme in this book as Edyth falls victim to her Uncles’ treacherous scheme to put her away and steal her fortune. There is one character that I absolutely loved in the book. Bane is a brilliant fence instructor who happens to take a shining to Edyth. His love for Edyth is evident as he never gives up trying to find her. Yes to me he is a knight in shining armor. It was intriguing to read how their relationship developed. Bane knows something is wrong when Edyth doesn’t show up to meet him one day. Edyth’s Uncle is callous and makes up lies as to where Edyth is. While Bane searches for her , Edyth ,is locked away in an asylum under false pretenses. The description of The Gray Chamber is unnerving and I had a hard time reading about it. The author does an amazing job of vividly recounting what went on at the asylum and I was very interested in reading about an undercover journalist in the midst of patients. The story is based on a true crime with fictional liberties that enhance the story. Once I started reading the book, I couldn’t put it down. I had to find out if Bane would save Edyth before it was too late. The thought of Edyth never being rescued had my heart pumping. After reading this book I will be exploring more about this asylum and the treatment that women were forced to endure. The faith element is good in the story and gives hope to Edyth. Even though this is just the beginning of the new year, this book will be placed on my list for favorite 2020 books . I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
Momof9Kids 14 days ago
What an amazing book!!! The Gray Chamber is the 4th book in the True Colors – Fiction Based on Strange-But-True History series and is a standalone read. It has adventure, suspense, betrayal, and romance all rolled into one volume. I hated to turn the last page. Edyth Foster is a young woman living in New York in 1887…a young woman born into privilege…her parents die in an accident leaving her under her uncle’s care until she reaches 25 at which time she will come into great wealth. Edyth is a bit of an eccentric and has a tendency to do as she pleases and it pleases her to ride about town in garish outfits on her velocipede and pursue the hobby of fencing. Little does fencing instructor, Raoul “Bane” Banebridge, suspect that young Edyth is quite enamored of him and has been almost since the day he began teaching her. It is only when Edyth’s cousin helps her dress for a party that Bane recognizes what has been right in front of him all the time…Edyth is not only breathtakingly beautiful but also quite charming. Bane is almost surprised by his feelings of jealousy over the attention she receives from other possible suitors and determines that he will pursue her…something that Edyth has dreamed of for years!! Poor Edyth appears not to have very much insight into how her eccentricity might have appeared to others or how her uncle’s new wife truly felt about her. Much to Edyth’s surprise, she finds that her uncle and his wife have plotted to have her committed to Blackwell’s Island…the sight of an abominable mental hospital with equally abominable treatments. If they are successful, the bulk of her wealth will revert to Uncle Boris and his heirs. What will become of Edyth now? Will anyone come to her defense? Will Bane care enough to search for her when he realizes she is missing? Who is the mysterious Nellie Brown she encounters at Blackwell’s Island? The suspense is building so don’t miss it!! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
BEASTEWART 15 days ago
The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock is part of the True Colors, Historical Stories of American Crime series. The setting for the story is New York’s Blackwell Island Women’s Lunatic Asylum in 1887. Laws and women’s rights were quite different during that time; and because of that, many women suffered in multiple ways. This is one of those stories which will captivate you. Edyth Foster is a young woman whose parents both died and left her in the care of her Uncle Boris. Edyth stands to gain a monumental inheritance when she reaches the age of 25; and because of that, many men seek her hand in marriage to have that inheritance under their own financial control. Edyth tires of these fortune seekers and tends to be her own woman—riding a bicycle around town, taking fencing lessons, and other activities of which the upper wealthy class in New York does not approve. However, Edyth’s fencing instructor Raoul Banebridge, nicknamed Bane, finds her to be her own woman with her own thoughts and ideas, and Edyth’s love for Bane begins to develop. Edith’s Uncle Boris becomes engaged to be married; and when her Uncle’s fiancé learns of Edyth’s future inheritance, she scours the will to find a way for Boris to keep control of the wealthy inheritance. And find a way, she does. Uncle Boris and his fiancé learn that if Edyth is found mentally incompetent, the funds would remain under Boris’ control. Thus begins their plan to have Edyth committed to an asylum. This story is filled with stories of the heartaches and cruelty other women in the asylum have suffered, along with unjust penalties and extremely poor living conditions. But it is also filled with the love that two people have for one another, and that love brings a positive resolve to this story. I enjoyed reading this book and recommend it to other readers. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
PamMooney 17 days ago
A great addition to the true colors series! The mix of true historical crime and fiction was perfectly written. I love it when reading a book inspires me to go on to find out more. I really felt Edyth's spirit as the author brought me into the time period and the horrors women endured when sent to asylums simply because they were an inconvenience. The supporting characters really helped round out the story with their experiences and what was the norm in the era. I enjoyed that though modern women for their time and surrounded by greed and evil the characters kept their faith and remembered the Lord. A thriller with the winning combination of suspense, greed, evil, romance and redemption. A good read. I love that authors in the True Colors series put in extensive research that gives the back story of the setting. I enjoyed reading this author's notes about the original crimes and Nellie Bly's first hand accounts.
TwinBee 17 days ago
"The Gray Chamber" by Grace Hitchcock is a fictional story based on historical fact. After her guardian uncle finds a clause in the will that would prevent her from inheriting her father’s fortune, Edyth is forced into a lunatic asylum. Here, she meets Nellie Bly, an investigative journalist who is on an undercover assignment to expose the brutal treatment of patients at the Blackwell Island insane asylum for women. It’s a suspenseful novel that I didn’t want to put down and it kept me on the edge of my seat. Eventually, Edyth’s friend, Bane, comes to her rescue and the atrocities in the insane asylum are exposed. An excellent work, I give it four stars! I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishers on behalf of the author. I was not required to give a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
Mama_Cat 17 days ago
This is the most intense, riveting novel I’ve read so far in this multi-author “True Colors” series by Barbour! I could hardly put it down for wanting to find out what would happen next. The main characters are so well defined I really felt as if I knew them and the descriptions of the asylum made me feel as if I were there, suffering along with Edyth, Poppy, Nellie, and the others. There is intrigue and incredible drama throughout. Edyth Foster is an orphan; her parents died when she was a teen. Before their death, Edyth’s father had begun her fencing lessons that continue to date, and she loves it. She is also in love with her fencing master, Bane, and has been for several years, showing no interest for any other single man. Her father’s brother, Boris, has cared for her since her parent’s death. He lives with her in the home she inherited, and in a few short months, she will have full control of her inheritance. At that time, she plans to pay for an apartment for Uncle Boris, his new wife, and his wife’s daughter Lavinia, just returned from four years in Paris. At the party given to welcome Lavinia, Boris has invited three men she hasn’t seen before. They are doctors at the well-known Blackwell’s Island where the lunatic asylum is located. A huge influx of women being sent there has sent the men to a facility at a different location. They claim the women are treated well there, but Edyth will soon find out differently. When Lavinia helps Edyth dress like the young lady she is, Raoul “Bane” Banebridge sees her true beauty, and wonders why it took him so long to realize she is a young woman as well as his best friend – and he wants to marry her, a dream come true. They begin to date seriously, until the day she is to meet Bane and she doesn’t show up. Her uncle comes up with one tale after another regarding her whereabouts, but it isn’t until a local attorney divulges the truth when drunk that he finds the truth. Uncle Boris’ wife found a clause in the will that gives him a way to take the entire fortune. All he had to do was find doctors willing to claim her insane and get her committed to Blackwell’s Island. The asylum is beyond Edyth’s worst nightmare. The poor food and beatings endured by the patients are horrible enough. The worst is the Gray Chamber, where indescribable treatments take place that steal the women’s memories and the essence of who they are. The loss of Bane is almost unbearable. Edyth tried to escape, had almost swum back to the mainland, and was captured again. From Poppy, she learns a whole new relationship with the Lord. From Nellie Bly, she gains hope of getting off the island for good. Until she is threatened with the chamber. Greed and betrayal are terrible things when let loose on those who love us. Love, and the power of God are even stronger forces, however, and He can bring good out of even the worst circumstances for those who love Him. Some of the scenes are truly difficult to read, as are many truths of our history. The suspense of discovering the depth of betrayal and whether Edyth can get out before it’s too late, ultimately her entire future, make it a fabulous read. I highly recommend it to those who appreciate well-written Christian novels that highlight spiritual growth and love despite some of the worst circumstances one can be subjected to. From a thankful heart: I received a complimentary ARC of this novel; a review was not required.
Shonda Fischer 19 days ago
Words can not do this book justice! Grace Hitchcock is a magnificent story teller, her books will captivate your heart. Stories woven around true historical crimes brings shock and emotions from its readers. I read this book in one sitting and couldn’t put it down until completed. The suspense, betrayal and heartbreak had me captured in its pages. The sweet life giving romance and faith in God brought closure to such a harrowing tale. This book will have you clamoring for more from this author! Was given a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
Soupersally 21 days ago
The Gray Chamber is an amazing book!  Grace Hitchcock (now a new favorite author to me) certainly did her research revealed in the details of being kidnapped and taken to lunatic asylum in 1887. Edyth Foster is a happy, free-spirited young woman enjoying her life as an heiress since her parents died when she was quite young.    She was considered an eccentric in her day since she loved her hobbies of painting, riding her horse alone, fencing (gasp), and cycling in a wild costume for all to see and to spread gossip. Her secret crush is her fencing instructor, who is also her good friend. Her father's brother raised her allowing her a lot of freedom but then he married a woman who changed everything in the household and wanted to rid Edyth from living there even though Edyth owned the home. The kidnapping details are so realistic, my heart was racing!  While being a prisoner, Edyth makes some friends who seem to be okay mentally and that helps Edyth somewhat. I highly recommend this book. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
Sonflwr 23 days ago
How in the world do I write a short review – there’s so much in this book. The cover tells you that in 1887 Edyth Foster was committed to the Blackwell Island Women’s Lunatic Asylum by her Uncle Boris. His new wife apparently found a loophole in the will of Edyth’s parents and learned that if she were dead or committed, then Boris would get the inheritance – and they need to act quickly as it was four months until her 25th birthday, when she would receive the fortune. It also says the story is based on true history. I love Edyth’s personality. She sounds like a fun person to get to know. She would ride her velocipede instead of using an enclosed carriage, and often wore clothing that was unusual. She knew that most men would seek her hand in marriage because of the fortune she would receive. She also knew she could care less about anyone but Bane, her fencing instructor. But, he didn’t seem to notice her. Until the arrival of her cousin, Lavinia, who helped her get ready for the next social event. Then, surprise, his eyes were opened and he realized this youngster had turned into a beautiful woman, and yes, he was definitely interested in having a deeper relationship. As the story goes that very night her Uncle was successful in getting her committed. When she didn’t show up the next morning for an outing with Bane, he knew something was wrong. So, we learn of how well the author did in researching the abuse of the patients on the Island. Edyth met an undercover journalist, Nellie Brown (Bly). It is a terrifying experience for all of the women. Edyth learned a lot – not only about the asylum, but about herself. At the same time, Bane and his brother, along with a private investigator were looking for her. I had a hard time putting the book down until I knew how it would turn out. I felt like maybe the story went a little long – but, then, in a lot of books you don’t always know what happens to the characters following the “main event”. The author, Grace Hitchcock is relatively new. I can definitely seeing her having a great future. The book made me want to learn more about this time in history, and was well done. I recommend it. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
EElizabeth 27 days ago
I don't know if there is a better book to read on a road trip or any other time than The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock. I just spent part of an eight hour road trip reading it and absolutely loved it! What more could you ask for than to be able to read about a true crime that took place in insane asylums in a fictional setting, a romance that starts between friends, and a diabolical plot to gain an inheritance? I really enjoyed so many aspects of this book! I would recommend this book for those who enjoy historical fiction based on crimes that actually happened in real life. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.