Publication Date: April 10, 2012
About the Author
Regina O’Melveny‘s poetry has been published widely in literary journals, garnering several prizes. She grew up at the edge of pungent chaparral in La Mesa, California, and chose to enroll at Callison College–a school of International Studies at the University of the Pacific–almost solely based upon the fact that the second year would be spent in India. Thus began her many extended travels that would later inspire The Book of Madness and Cures, her first novel. She lives in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.
As something of an oddity, Gabriella has been trained by her father to be a physician and she has found a true calling where she can minister to other women during the 16th century. Unfortunately, she can no longer practice in male dominated Venice since her father has disappeared. The story follows Gabriella throughout Europe as she follows her father’s letters to different countries and to his friend’s homes. During her travels, she finds more knowledge about medicine and bits and pieces of what happened to her father. The ending will really catch you off guard even though each page lead to this conclusion.
The writing is just perfect and historically correct with enough detail and dialogue as to not be bogged down by being overly descriptive. What shocked me most about the story is how women were mistreated and abused by male physicians during this time period. The conditions they endured were truly horrifying and almost akin to rape! What we take for granted in modern medicine certainly didn’t exist in this time period. I was so happy to read about one of my favorite time periods and from a female point of view. Fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir should really enjoy this debut.
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