Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book review: The Book of Madness and Cures

I normally read books pretty quickly, but occasionally I run across one that demands me to slow down and savor every word.  The Book of Madness and Cures, by poet Regina O'Melveny, is one of those books. Here's a bit about the book from the publisher's website:
Gabriella Mondini is a rarity in 16th century Venice: a woman who practices medicine. Her father, a renowned physician, has provided her entrée to this all-male profession, and inspired in her a shared mission to understand the secrets of the human body.

Then her father disappears and Gabriella faces a crisis: she is no longer permitted to treat her patients, women who need her desperately, without her father's patronage. She sets out across Europe to find where-and why-he has gone. Following clues from his occasional enigmatic letters, Gabriella crosses Switzerland, Germany and France, entering strange and forbidding cities. She travels to Scotland, the Netherlands, and finally to Morocco. In each new land she probes the mystery of her father's flight, and open new mysteries of her own. Not just mysteries of ailments and treatments, but ultimate mysteries of mortality, love, and the timeless human spirit.
It took me a few chapters to get really "in" to the book, since it's set in such a different time and place than my own.  Pretty soon though, I was traveling around the world in my mind with Gabriella and her servants.  The Book of Madness and Cures is a fascinating look at medicine, gender roles, family, society and travel during the Renaissance.  While it may be a novel, the author is a poet, and that comes across in the beautiful words and descriptions in the book. All in all, this is an exceptionally well-written, lyrical, and intriguing book and I highly recommend that you pick it up.

To read an excerpt from this book, visit the widget pasted below.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review for myself. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.


Virginia Llorca said...

I just bought this at the dollar store because it looked so beautiful. Can't wait to read it. Wonder why it was there.