Ami McKay -- Book LaunchTuesday Nov 01 2011 7:00 pm, Winnipeg, Grant Park in the Atrium
Winnipeg launch of The Virgin Cure (Knopf Canada).
Inspired by the life and work of her great-great-grandmother, Dr. Sarah Fonda Mackintosh, a pioneer in women’s and children’s health care in nineteenth-century New York, Ami McKay’s The Virgin Cure, is set in Victorian New York in the year 1871.
As a crowded, sweltering summer of riots and poverty comes to a close, twelve-year-old Moth’s journey is just beginning. Sold away by her mother, Moth is befriended by a young pickpocket named Torch Boy. This meeting begins Moth’s journey along a twisted, strange and dangerous path, alone.
From a dime museum of anatomical wonders, to a dance hall populated by child prostitutes, to an apothecary shop where a magical pear tree once stood, Moth must rely on the lessons she learns from both Dr. Sadie Fonda, a physician at the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, and the streets to make things right.
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, a finalist for CBC Canada Reads, and a book club favourite around the world. Born and raised in Indiana, Ami now lives with her husband and two sons in Nova Scotia.
- by Ami Mckay
$32.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $28.80
Following in the footsteps of The Birth House, her powerful debut novel, The Virgin Cure secures Ami McKay's place as one of our most beguiling storytellers. (Not that it has to... that is pretty much taken care of!)
"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.
The summer Moth turns twelve, her mother puts a halt to her explorations by selling her boots to a local vendor, convinced that Moth was planning to run away. Wanting to make the most of her every asset, she also sells Moth to a wealthy woman as a servant, with no intention of ever seeing her again.
These betrayals lead Moth to the wild, murky world of the Bowery, filled with house-thieves, pickpockets, beggars, sideshow freaks and prostitutes, but also a locale frequented by New York's social elite. Their patronage supports the shadowy undersphere, where businesses can flourish if they truly understand the importance of wealth and social standing - and of keeping secrets. In that world Moth meets Miss Everett, the owner of a brothel simply known as an "infant school." There Moth finds the orderly solace she has always wanted, and begins to imagine herself embarking upon a new path.
Yet salvation does not come without its price: Miss Everett caters to gentlemen who pay dearly for companions who are "willing and clean," and the most desirable of them all are young virgins like Moth. That's not the worst of the situation, though. 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.
- by Ami McKay
$22.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $19.80
The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of Rares. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing. Dora becomes Miss B.’s apprentice, and together they help the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labours, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even unfulfilling sex lives. Filled with details as compelling as they are surprising, The Birth House is an unforgettable tale of the struggles women have faced to have control of their own bodies and to keep the best parts of tradition alive in the world of modern medicine.
Shortlisted for the 2011 Canada Reads Competition.