I don’t often do this. I barely have time to brush my teeth on a daily basis, let alone write book reviews, but in this instance I just couldn’t stop myself. I recently finished
devouring reading The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay, and because it took my breath away, I had to write about it.
You can see my review on Goodreads, or read it here:
The Virgin Cure is a fabulous book. It’s beautifully written with a literary voice and flavor, and a nuanced, layered plot that’s packed with conflict and struggle. This novel somehow manages to be both character-driven and plot-driven—which is the ideal, to my mind, but is all too rare.
The story is filled with fascinating characters, the female characters in particular. Moth, the 12 year-old protagonist is wonderful—a girl born in the slums of 19th century New York, she dreams of a better life. Her lot is a rough one, yet she doesn’t feel sorry for herself, which as an outstanding quality in a protagonist.
Then there’s her Gypsy mother—a smart woman with a hard life who seems to have run out of love. Moth comes into the clutches of Mrs. Wentworth, the superficially polished but tightly wound, psychotic society lady. Then there’s Mrs. Everett, the sharp, astute madam who also manages to have moments of humanity. The moral touchstone of the story, Dr. Sadie is a woman doctor during a pioneering time for women in medicine: she is a scientific woman, but is compassionate and generous, yet we glimpse her girlish moments too.
The Virgin Cure contains wonderfully layered themes: it’s about society (and its seedy underbelly), class, unrequited love, slavery and prostitution, freedom, heartbreak, survival, secrets, the power and the curse of purity, and the two sides of fortunetelling: believing in destiny, and making your own luck.
The darker affairs surrounding syphilis and the so-called virgin cure are fascinating issues, where the history of medicine intersects with the history of humanity and society.
Being a female doctor myself, being a lover of historical novels, and possessing a mild-to-moderate obsession with New York, I admit to feeling like this book was written just for me.
Thank you, Ami McKay, for creating such a breathtaking work of fiction.
So tell me…anyone else read The Virgin Cure? What did you think? Also, I’m curious…do you usually write online reviews of the books you read? What motivates you to write a review?
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