“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.
“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.”
“McKay is clearly a talented writer with a subtle sense of story, one that readers will look forward to hearing from, again and again.”
“McKay is such a wonderful storyteller with a strong sense of place and time.”
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