Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay


Publisher: Knopf Canada
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher
(not released in the US until 2012)






Ami McKay has done it again, a phenomenal book that is sure to be a bestseller. While many readers loved her first novel The Birth House, McKay completely shifts gears in The Virgin Cure and proves herself to be a extraordinary writer once again. The main character Moth lives with her mother in the tenements of lower Manhattan in the late nineteenth century. Her father named her and took off shortly after when she was three years old. Her mother was never able to have Moth respond to any other name, and as a result the name stuck. By the age of twelve, Moth has lived in misery. Her mother keeps her distance, and Moth has had to provide her own food and keep herself safe. When life seems bleak, it only gets worst for Moth when her mother sells her to become a service maid. Her life is about to spiral out of control and Moth has no time to let reality sink in. While Moth is amused by the lives of the rich, her intrigue is quickly swept away when she becomes a victim of abuse. Mrs. Wentworth becomes cruel, and crazed. Moth enlists the help of a friend, and is able to escape and go home. When she knocks on her apartment door and realizes that her mother is no longer living there, Moth is beyond hurt, knowing her mother never had any intentions of seeing her again. She simply sold her to the highest bidder, and ran off. Now, Moth has to use her survival skills once again and get herself off the streets. Ultimately, Moth ends up living in a brothel and becomes Miss Everett’s newest student. She caters to gentlemen who pay for companions who are “willing and clean.” If Moth wants a place to live, she must follow the rules and play along.

The Virgin Cure is sure to please many types of readers. Although it is mostly a historical fiction read, it goes beyond the historical facts. McKay explores the dilapidated tenements of New York, and uncovers a shady past while depicting strong, independent-minded women. Women who have little control over their circumstances but hold strong to the little independence that still remains. Choices can always be made, but consequences ensue. Moth befriends Sadie, a female doctor who initially tends to her when she comes to the brothel and tried to steer Moth in a different direction, at the very least she tries to educated Moth on the misconceptions of “Virgins” and their ability to cure syphilis in men. McKay immerses her readers into her fictional world, and includes quotes, news articles, magazines, advertisements, and journals from the time period. This story is not a pleasant read, depicting poverty stricken women with little options, but the setting is not overpowering. Underlining is the story of the struggle for survival and dreams of a possible brighter future.


21 comments:

  1. I love historical fiction and books set in New York so I think I would really like to read this one. The subject sounds difficult but I think I could probable learn a lot from it. I really like that she added news articles and journals from the time period- sounds great!

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  2. I really want to read this one and the author's other book as well! They are both on my wish list.

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  3. Wow, this sounds a bit dark but so very, very interesting. I can't imagine going through something like Moth goes through, and I always enjoy reading historical novels that bring to light unfathomable circumstances. Thanks for the review Jennifer!

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  4. That sounds like a sad, but intriguing story. How could a mother do that to her child?

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  5. I can't wait to read this one, and am going to be getting it from a close friend sometime in the new year. I love stories like this, where the lines between good and bad are so sharply delineated. I can't wait to see what I think of it. It sounds amazing. Wonderful review today, by the way!

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  6. This sounds like a sad but intriguing story. Thanks for the review and I'll be adding this to my wishlist.

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  7. Great review!
    I've already pre-ordered this one as I loved The Birth House

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  8. Love historical fiction and I like the idea that this one is set in the not so distant past. Moth sounds like she has quite a few circumstances and struggles to overcome. I'm curious to know how this one ends. Great review.

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  9. This one sounds so sad -- I don't know if I could read it. Excellent review!

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  10. Aww, this sounds like such a dark, sad, but incredibly interesting read! My heart is breaking for Moth from just reading your review -- I can't believe how much she has to deal with! :( It definitely sounds like an amazingly overpowering read in the best possible way though, and I really want to check it out now! :)

    Awesome review, Mrs. Q!

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  11. I do like the sound of it, something pulls me in, even if it sounds like a sad one too

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  12. So .. I know it's heavy subject matter, but I really want to read this .. I felt so sorry for Moth simply from your own description of this novel .. it's going on my wishlist.

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  13. I love historical fiction, so this sounds right up my alley. This is a new-to-me author, so I will have to check her out. Plus, New York in the 19th Century definitely sounds like an interesting setting, especially since they are living in tenements. Great review!

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  14. I've been on the fence about this one, mainly because I wasn't that big a fan of The Birth House. Your review has encouraged me to give it a try.

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  15. I used to read historical fiction all the time, but haven't read much of it in a while. This book sounds really interesting! I'm definitely going to have to look into checking it out. :) Thanks for sharing!

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  16. I usually don't go for historical fiction, but you make this sound really compelling, especially since I personally don't know too much about this social class during this time period.

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  17. First time hearing about this book. It's sound like an interesting book and I love historical fiction. Awesome review!

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  18. Wow this sounds sooo good!! I have The Birth House but haven't read it yet, but I think I might want to read this one first! I love reading about anything in New York, life in the tenements, and love reading about strong women!

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  19. What a great review! We're so glad you enjoyed it!

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