Friday 13 July 2012

The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny - Book Review

Title: The Book of Madness and Cures
Author: Regina O'Melveny
Publisher: Little Brown & Company
Publication Date: 10th April 2012
Pages: 307
Format: E-Book -EPUB
Genre: Literary / Historical Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley

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Dr. Gabriella Mondini, a strong-willed, young Venetian woman, has followed her father in the path of medicine. She possesses a singleminded passion for the art of physick, even though, in 1590, the male-dominated establishment is reluctant to accept a woman doctor. So when her father disappears on a mysterious journey, Gabriella's own status in the Venetian medical society is threatened. Her father has left clues--beautiful, thoughtful, sometimes torrid, and often enigmatic letters from his travels as he researches his vast encyclopedia, The Book of Diseases.

After ten years of missing his kindness, insight, and guidance, Gabriella decides to set off on a quest to find him--a daunting journey that will take her through great university cities, centers of medicine, and remote villages across Europe. Despite setbacks, wary strangers, and the menaces of the road, the young doctor bravely follows the clues to her lost father, all while taking notes on maladies and treating the ill to supplement her own work.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

This is a book I really expected to like, but somehow it just fell a little short of the mark with me.

The idea behind the plot was fascinating and I loved the way the different diseases and 'cures' were woven into the story. The historical detail from that point of view seemed well research, although I am no expert in the area to know if O'Melveny got it right or wrong.

Sadly, I just never fell in love with the characters and I found myself disengaged from the story and generally uninterested in what would happen next.

But there have been a number of positive reviews for this book, so I guess it just wasn't for me.

That said, the story idea should appeal to a range of readers and I would still give this book three stars as it did have merit in terms of the ideas and the beautifully poetic prose.

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