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The Virgin Cure Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Oct 25 2011


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Amazon.ca First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Canada; 1st Edition edition (Oct. 25 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676979564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676979565
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 3 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #92,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“Finely crafted and remarkably researched.... While set in the past, the book informs the modern dialogue on feminism, the sex trade, and choice.”
—Stacey May Fowles, The Walrus
 
“A worthy follow up to...The Birth House.... Character, setting, mood and plot are melded naturally to create a Dickensian world of deprivation and determination.”
Winnipeg Free Press
 
“A powerful novel, rooted in the same elements that made The Birth House both critically lauded and a bestseller.... One of McKay’s gifts and skills as a writer is her ability to utterly immerse the reader in her fictional world.... A powerful, affecting novel.”
—Robert J. Wiersema, National Post
 
“Fans of McKay’s bestselling novel The Birth House are going to love The Virgin Cure.... McKay’s vivid prose can trigger in readers the taste of a hot bowl of oyster stew, the reek of Chrystie Street tenement houses and the sound of a taffeta skirt’s hem brushing the floor of a concert saloon.... It’s difficult not to swiftly turn the pages of The Virgin Cure.
Maclean’s
 
“A lovely novel, written in a style that is both clean and subtle. McKay’s voices are true; her characters sympathetic.... I’m certain readers will take to The Virgin Cure just as they did The Birth House.”
The Vancouver Sun

“A powerful new voice in Canadian writing.”
—Marjorie Anderson
 
“McKay is clearly a talented writer with a subtle sense of story, one that readers will look forward to hearing from, again and again.”
The Gazette
 
“McKay is such a wonderful storyteller with a strong sense of place and time.”
Library Journal

From the Back Cover

One summer night in Lower Manhattan in 1871, twelve-year-old Moth is pulled from her bed and sold as a servant to a finely dressed woman. Knowing that her mother is so close while she is locked away in servitude, Moth bides her time until she can escape, only to find her old home deserted and her mother gone without a trace. Moth must struggle to survive alone in the murky world of the Bowery, a wild and lawless enclave filled with thieves, beggars, sideshow freaks, and prostitutes.

She eventually meets Miss Everett, the proprietress of an "Infant School," a brothel that caters to gentlemen who pay dearly for "willing and clean" companions—desirable young virgins like Moth. She also finds friendship with Dr. Sadie, a female physician struggling against the powerful forces of injustice. The doctor hopes to protect Moth from falling prey to a terrible myth known as the "virgin cure"—the tragic belief that deflowering a "fresh maid" can cleanse the blood and heal men afflicted with syphilis—which has destroyed the lives of other Bowery girls.

Ignored by society and unprotected by the law, Moth dreams of independence. But there's a high price to pay for freedom, and no one knows that better than a girl from Chrystie Street.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Oct. 25 2011
Format: Hardcover
Ami McKay's first novel The Birth House was a phenomenal success. I have no doubt that her newly released second novel - The Virgin Cure - will also be bestseller. And, it's one of my favourite reads for 2011.

I was hooked from the opening line..."I am Moth, a girl from the lowest part of Chrystie Street, born to a slum-house mystic and the man who broke her heart."

And so begins the story of Moth, born into the slums of Manhattan in New York City. In 1871 Moth's mother sells her - to a wealthy woman looking for a young servant. When that situation becomes untenable, Moth runs away and finds herself alone on the streets with no prospects. Until the owner of a brothel in the Bowery that 'caters to men looking for young companions who are 'willing and clean' takes her in. In Miss Everett's "Infant School", the most desirous of all are virgins, for it is said that a virgin can cure a man of that most scurrilous of diseases - syphilis.

One bright light in Moth's life is Doctor Sadie, one of the first female physicians in New York City, who attends the girls at Miss Everett's establishment. The idea for the Virgin Cure was based on McKay's search into her own roots. Her great-great grandmother was a physician in New York City.

What did I love so much about this book? Well, everything! McKay's characterizations are rich, detailed and believable. I became so invested in Moth and Dr. Sadie, sharing their fears and dreams. Both of these characters are strong, strong female leads, staying true to themselves despite the obstacles put before them.

The setting is just as much of a player in the novel. McKay's depiction of 1870's New York conjured up vivid scenes crackling with detail.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER on Nov. 18 2011
Format: Hardcover
Story Description:

"I am Moth, a girl from the lowest part of Chrystie Street, born to a slum-house mystic and the man who broke her heart."

So begins THE VIRGIN CURE, bestselling author Ami McKay's much-anticipated new novel. Set in the tenements of lower Manhattan in 1871, where the author's own great-great-grandmother once worked as a groundbreaking female physician, the novel is told in the voice of Moth, the daughter of a Gypsy fortune teller and a ne'er-do-well who abandons them both a smile and a tip of his hat. Left to struggle on their own, Moth and her Mama lead a hard life, one that requires Moth to become more streetwise with each passing day. Although she comes to believe she's seen it all, nothing prepares Moth for the terrible surprise her mother gives her when she turns twelve: the news that she must leave her home to live as a servant in the house of Mrs. Wentworth, a lady of station and means (and, as Moth soon discovers, inventive cruelty).

These betrayals lead Moth to the Bowery, a wild, murky thoroughfare filled with house-thieves, pick-pockets, beggars, sideshow freaks, and prostitutes. Hungry, desperate, and haunted by a sexual predator, Moth sees an introduction to Miss Everett, the owner of a nearby brothel, as her way to a better life or, at the very least, a soft bed and a full belly. To Miss Everett, Moth is simply another chance for profit, as her establishment is known as an infant school, caters to gentlemen who pay dearly for companions who are "willing and clean," the most desirable of them all, young virgins like Moth.

In this new life, Moth finds friendship with the other girls in the house as well as with Dr.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By little lady blue TOP 500 REVIEWER on May 24 2012
Format: Hardcover
How could you not fall in love with a child of 12 with the name of Moth who begins her story with the words: `Mama sold me the summer I turned twelve'.
This is a poignant, touching story telling of the way things were for many people in New York in the late 1800's. It is historical fiction well researched to the point of giving the reader a true rendering of what life for a child such as Moth could very well have been, bringing to light some startling revelations about myths that were very popular at that time.
Beautifully written, easy to read with depictions of notices & advertisements of the day.
I wanted to give 5 stars but would have liked a bit more out of the ending. I felt the stories about some of the secondary characters were not complete. I would like to have known their fate.
Otherwise this book is well worth the time to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kadi Kaljuste on Jan. 22 2012
Format: Hardcover
Having loved Amy McKay's first novel, The Birth House, I had my fingers crossed that The Virgin Cure would not disappoint. And it did not. Set in the poorest neighbourhoods of New York City in the 1870s, McKay creates wonderful Dickensian characters. From the girl protagonist Moth and her fortune-telling mother, to Dr. Sadie, an independent woman who defies the conventions of the period, McKay creates characters who are rich and vivid. While the plot was, at some points, quite predictable, McKay's addition of historical sidebar anecdotes from the period more than make up for this weakness. The story is ripe for a screen adaptation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By candy on Jan. 14 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was an absolute excellent read and the best book I've ever read. You will not put the book down and it's like you yourself become part of it as you imagine yourself going through what this young girl did. It held my interest 100%.
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