Time is like the wind, it lifts the light and leaves the heavy.
-Doménico Cieri Estrada
Although the weather outside is indeed quite frightful, our eighth meeting was definitely delightful as we gathered for brunch at 7 West Cafe.
Right off the bat, Kathleen Winter's "Annabel" raised quite a lively discussion, as there were much to talk about. The complexity and the symbolism found within the novel are profound, not to mention the rich details of the characters. There were many scenes which had us on edge, and there was an overwhelming agreement that the ending was a satisfying one.
When it came to pick our January book club pick, it was hard to choose as the titles which appeared in this month's selections for our 'Member's Choice" theme were all great! ?And so it came down to the decision of picking the titles out of a hat (or toque I should say!)
And the title for January book club pick is:
"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, a novel set in the tenements of lower Manhattan in the year 1871. As a young child, Moth''s father smiled, tipped his hat and walked away from his wife and daughter forever, and Moth has never stopped imagining that one day they may be reunited - despite knowing in her heart what he chose over them. Her hard mother is barely making a living with her fortune-telling, sometimes for well-heeled clients, yet Moth is all too aware of how she really pays the rent.
Life would be so much better, Moth knows, if fortune had gone the other way - if only she'd had the luxury of a good family and some station in life. The young Moth spends her days wandering the streets of her own and better neighbourhoods, imagining what days are like for the wealthy women whose grand yet forbidding gardens she slips through when no one''s looking. Yet every night Moth must return to the disease- and grief-ridden tenements she calls home.
In a time and place where mysterious illnesses ravage those who haven''t been cautious, no matter their social station, diseased men yearn for a "virgin cure" - thinking that deflowering a "fresh maid" can heal the incurable and tainted. Through the friendship of Dr. Sadie, a female physician who works to help young women like her, Moth learns to question and observe the world around her. Moth''s new friends are falling prey to fates both expected and forced upon them, yet she knows the law will not protect her, and that polite society ignores her. Still she dreams of answering to no one but herself. There's a high price for such independence, though, and no one knows that better than a girl from Chrystie Street.
About the author (from the author's website):
Ami McKay’s debut novel, The Birth House was a # 1 bestseller in Canada, winner of three CBA Libris Awards, nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and a book club favourite around the world. Her new novel. The Virgin Cure, is inspired by the life of her great- great grandmother, Dr. Sarah Fonda Mackintosh, a female physician in nineteenth century New York. Born and raised in Indiana, Ami now lives in Nova Scotia.
For more tidbits on all things "The Virgin Cure" as well as a more detailed biography of the author, a great place to visit is the author's website.