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The Book of Madness and Cures: A Novel Hardcover – April 10, 2012
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"....[A]n elegant portrait of a resolute woman who practices medicine in 16th-century Venice...The writing is superb, particularly when the author describes..exotic locales and ancient superstitions. The book will especially attract readers who enjoy female centered historical novels whose plots are not driven by romance."―Lucy Roehrig, Library Journal
"[Gabriella Mondini's] journey is conveyed with earthy and sensual brio [and] clearly well-researched evocations of time and place, and...poetical description....You will love this adventure."―Elle Magazine
"Poet O'Melveny's debut fiction is like a lyrical composite creature-part father/daughter epistolary novel, part aristocratic diary, part adventurer's travelogue, and part compendium of allegorical diseases...Readers will be delighted by O'Melveny's whimsical embellishments."―Publishers Weekly
"[A] picaresque fiction debut...a provocative window into early medical pronouncements on everything from depression to claustrophobia..."―Jan Stuart, The Boston Globe
"O'Melveny's writing is smooth and evocative. Gabriella proves a likeable traveling companion, and her first-person narration keeps things moving along....Readers will find much to enjoy in this colorful, picaresque tale."―David Maine, Popmatters
"Gorgeously written, and filled with details about science and medicine, this is an unforgettable debut novel."―Tara Quinn, Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Infused with the sensuous places and metaphorical natural world that recur in [O'Melveny's] poetry..."―Anne Gray Fischer, Ploughshares
"Intriguing.... Every new chapter brings a new adventure and a new piece of the puzzle."―Claire Rivero, The Washington Independent Review of Books
"Reminiscent of The Red Tent, Anita Diamant's book-club favorite..."―Susannah Meadows, The New York Times
"[A] darkly whimsical first novel..."―Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Dr. Gabriella Mondini is a rarity in Venice. While most women live more common lives, she has been afforded the chance to study medicine with her father, who is a well-respected doctor in is own right. Even though the guild of medicine is comprised entirely of men, her father has always done everything possible to ensure that his daughter becomes the best doctor she can be. When her father leaves the home to research maladies and cures to be published in his massive medical resource, The Book of Diseases, he leaves Gabriella to continue the family's medical practice.
Years later, Gabriella is still home, facing mounting disapproval from the medical guild, while her father continues his mysterious journey, sending letters that leave minimal clues to his activities or whereabouts. When, one day, she receives a letter from her father stating that he plans to continue his research with no intentions of ever returning home, Gabriella, despite her mother's warnings, sets out to find her father and convince him to return.
I have mixed feelings about this novel. Certain aspects worked extremely well. O'Melveny paints an accurate portrait of a young woman's struggle to reach her true potential. Set in the late 1500's the medical details, historical contexts, and character interactions are all fantastic. At times, however, I felt that the language of the novel got in the way of an otherwise intriguing story.Read more ›
There is earthly appeal in Gabriella Mondini, this unusual young woman who yearns to practice medicine at an epoch where women of similar social status were rarely seen even out of the home.
The human body study during the Renaissance was a fascinating subject, involving much debates in universities and physicians homes and often criticism (even persecution) as it involved the need for specimens.
The idea of a wealthy 16th Century Venetian woman, a full fledged physician forbidden to practice because of her sex, willing to leave the comforts of home in search of the father she has not heard of in ten years, solely armed with a medicine chest and accompanied by two loyal servants to venture into terra ignota captivates the imagination.
My ARC copy galvanized me to experience this intriguing book fully (I dropped everything else) and I can tell you I was mesmerized by the author's readers address . To be introduced to Regina's inspiration whilst she penned this novel was in itself a rare opportunity to understand the concept behind the story and I recommend readers to check it out before starting the first chapter!
Gabriella's journey to find her missing father will see her crossing Europe, taking her from Venice to lake Costentz, Leiden, Edenburg and to Algezer, Africa.
With infinite care Regina O'Melveny allows readers to visualize a world we have only perceived through the accounts of merchants such as Marco Polo. She does not loose readers in tedious details, allowing readers to fully concentrate on the protagonists.Read more ›
Gabriella herself is an educated woman, a scholar who is literally following in her father's footsteps, adding her own contribution to the encyclopedic Book of Diseases that her father has been compiling all his life for the advancement of medical science. If there is little new or of interest in the descriptions of Gabriella's brief stays as she passes through the major centres of learning in Europe - other than a near run-in with a witch hunt, the expected encounters with thieves, lecherous men, romantic interests and adverse weather conditions are unexceptional - Gabriella's contributions to her father's study is much more intriguing, taking her down surreal paths in her documentation of rare diseases like The Plague of Black Tears, Solar Madness and Invidia. While she may not contract these afflictions herself, Gabriella's own experiences along the way allow her to relate to many of the symptoms.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Poorly written. The author's first try, so I am sympathetic as she apparently is a poet.There are a few good moments but overall the characters are story line are not engaging.Published 3 months ago by AM
I picked up this book, though neither the time period or location are typically of interest to me, because I read an article recommending it. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
I really wanted this book to grab me, but it just didn't. I gave it 70 pages and finally put it down. Read morePublished 7 months ago by VitalityGrl1
I like the premise of this book, but it plods along so slowly - and then suddenly ends! After 300 of very little plot development, the book has 20 pages of underdeveloped... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jen
This book looked like it would be very interesting. It's set in the Renaissance period in Europe, in different countries. I found the story a little bit "out there". Read morePublished 12 months ago by Patricia Baessler
Rich, elegant, beautifully written - the language is loaded with wonderful imagery and keen observation. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Lylelovesbooks
The Book of Madness and Cures tells the story of Gabriella, a female doctor in 16th century Venice. She has gained success under the mentorship of her father, a famous physician,... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Vicki J. Kondelik
Time and place very interesting to me but the plot left ALOT to be desired. Big gaps in the story. The story really seem rather far fetched. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Doris Edwards
Overwrought and reads like a romance although not quite that formulaic. I did laugh out loud at some of the prose.Published 15 months ago by Cynthia Odell