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The Road to Wellville Paperback – May 1, 1994


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Product Details

  • Series: Contemporary American Fiction
  • Paperback: 476 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; New edition (May 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140167188
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140167184
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Boyle's wickedly funny spoof of the turn-of-the-century health spa craze is packaged in a 50,000-copy "cereal boxed" edition.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-This novel gives readers insight into the health attitudes and morals of the early 1900s. It's also a riot to read. Boyle points out the ease with which medicine was manufactured at the turn of the century, and the dangers of taking them. John Harvey Kellogg, founder of Kellogg cereals, is mercilessly portrayed as an unethical doctor who purposely misinformed his patients. He supported his outlandish claims with circus tricks that demonstrated the violent potential of eating meat. The man is also shown to have had a humanitarian side. He adopted over 52 children, many of whom went on to become successful doctors and lawyers. Another of the main characters, Will Lightbody, unwittingly becomes addicted to Sears's White Star Liquor Cure. He has a chronically upset stomach, and the tonic his physician prescribes has alcohol as the main ingredient. Will's wife, in a desperate attempt to cure his alcoholism, surreptitiously slips "the cure" into his evening coffee-the active ingredient being opium. And so the story continues.
Heidi M. Steinhauer, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, FL
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

T. C. Boyle is the author of eleven novels, including World's End (winner of the PEN/FaulknerAward), Drop City (a New York Times bestseller and finalist for the National Book Award), and The Inner Circle. His most recent story collections are Tooth and Claw and The Human Fly and Other Stories.

Customer Reviews

Great character, interesting plot line.
S. Poppen
Rereading this book has started me on a Boyle chase, and I will read everything of his that I can get my hands on.
Amazon Customer
T.C. Boyle tell his novel with lots of verve, humor, warmth, and humanity.
IRA Ross

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By S. Calhoun on June 8, 2004
Format: Paperback
At the turn of the 20th century Battle Creek, Michigan was a magnet for the health-conscious while simultaneously attracting breakfast food speculators from around the country. In THE ROAD TO WELLVILLE T.C. Boyle spins an insightful and entertaining tale combining both of these historical movements. After surviving many attempts to making breakfast food products that were sabotaged by his jealous brother, he turned his attention to developing a sanitarium to launch his firm beliefs in a scientific diet that will treat the nation's ill health. After much hard work and determinism Kellogg's dream soon materialized as the sick traveled from afar to undergo daily enemas and milk diets in an effort to cleanse their systems.
According to the back cover this book is "wickedly comic" and "a comic tour de force", but I felt that this book wasn't all that laugh-out-loud funny. Sure, there is a plenty of T.C. Boyle's smart and intelligent prose but rarely did I find myself giggling while reading. The only passages that made me smile included the antics of Dr. Kellogg's disobedient foster son, especially the Christmas caroling scene.
All in all, I appreciated this book for its unique glimpse into this often-forgotten piece of American history; it's difficult to go wrong with T.C. Boyle as he always seems to spin an entertaining story.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Shantell Powell on December 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Road to Wellville is going on my list of absolute favourite books. This is one of the funniest novels I have ever read, and also one of the most educational. T. Coraghessan Boyle has perfected the art of understatement. One of my favourite parts is when Eleanor Lightbody is receiving her German therapeutic massage: "She sank beneath it, dreaming of those sylvan glades, of men and women alike gamboling through Bavarian meadows, as naked as God made them, and she felt herself moving, too, the gentlest friction of her hips against the leather padding, moving forward and downwards and ever so therapeutically into that firm sure touch." Trust me, when you get to that part of the book, all will make sense in a most delightful way!
This is a chronicle of the scatological misadventures of the spa/health set of the 1890s/1900s. Why do I say scatological? Well, John Kellogg (inventor of corn flakes and peanut butter) was obsessed with the alimentary canal. He believed a strict regimen of no fewer than five enemas per day was necessary for good health. His obsession with defecatory health permeates the novel and gives it its own unique...er...flavour.
But the novel is not a coprocentric treatise. It is a hilarious, rollicking journey through the life of a quack who didn't know he was a quack, and through the lives of those he effected.
I was first introduced to this tale through the critically-panned film version (which I personally enjoyed very much!). The book shares many common plot elements with the story, but, as is the usual case, is far superior to its film adaptation. It is also a very quick and easy read.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By IRA Ross on June 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
John Harvey Kellogg was a man ahead of his time. From the family that invented the corn flake, Dr. Kellogg ran a Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, that was one of the first of its kind in America. Concerned with the physiologic health of its inmates (mostly from the wealthy and upper middle class population), Dr. Kellogg prescribed lots of exercise, enemas, a diet consisting of milk, vegetables, fruits, and grains. No meat of any kind was allowed. The inbibing of alcohol was forbidden as was any kind of sexual activity. Sleeping quarters, even for husbands and wives, were strictly segregated. Dr. Kellogg also performed various experiments to create different types of foods (e.g. corn pulp). He even kept a laboratory holding containers of various animals' feces which Dr. Kellogg believed had the same nutritional value as a steak. Dr. Kellogg was a rigid, self-righteous man who thoroughly believed in his infallability. Never mind that one of his patient's skin was steadily becoming green and that another one was accidentally electrocuted while lolling in a sinusodial bath. We later learn that Dr. Kellogg misdiagnosed one of his patients as having "autointoxication" (all of his patients were allegedly suffering from this malady), when what he really had was an intestinal ulcer. Nor would Dr. Kellogg brook any disagreements with him or his methods. Besides his closest competitor, C.W. Post (whose slogan, "the road to wellville" Dr. Kellogg thoroughly despised), the individual who gave Dr. Kellogg the most trouble was his adopted son, George, who was extraordinarily hostile, rebellious, and downright psychotic. Dr. Kellogg believed that George was the only failure in his brood of 42 adopted children.
_The Road To Wellville_ is populated with many colorful and eccentric characters.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By E. Scoles on July 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
We always understand books or films in the context of our lives. For me, that quote -- describing Charlie Ossining's first moments in Battle Creek, as he realizes that he's at the tail-end and not the forefront of the breakfast-cereal boom -- sum up my experience of the book.
As an underling and long-time observer of The New Economy, I literally woke inspired one day to seek out this book. Though published in 1993, prior to the 'internet boom', it could as easily be a pointed parody of gullible dot-com fetishism and market-cap charlatanism as of gullible '80s materialism (or gullible '70s self-obsession or gullible '60s self-centeredness or... well, you get the idea). And the sense of deja-vu-all-over-again is only intensified by having once personally lived through Charlie's experience as the unwitting accomplice in a Big Con.
It's worth mentioning Boyle's apparent affection for even his most questionable characters. Even the 'little doctor', JH Kellog himself, is drawn as a man with the best and most genuine of motives, albeit a sad lack of self-examination. Scathingly satirical, funny, occasionally (but only so) gross and nasty, it's nevertheless never mean-spirited -- and that's why it works.
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