Brief reviews of mysteries, thrillers, and crime novels.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
The Book of Madness and Cures, by Regina O'Melveny
The story involves Gabriella Mondini, a 16th century Venetian doctor, who travels throughout Europe looking for her father, who left Venice almost ten years prior and hasn't been heard from at all in the last two years. His letters give her clues to his route, and the doctors and apothecaries in the towns who had dealings with her father make Gabriella anxious about her father's state of mind. On her journey she compiles her own book of diseases and cures. The diseases are bizarre, and the cures even more so. If I knew whether this book was entirely an invention or a product of considerable historical research, I'd know better whether I liked the book or not. Questioning whether people really believed the things O'Melveny writes about and whether the events took place was distracting. Turns out there were towns in Germany where all but one of the towns' women were burned as witches.*
*O'Melveny stipulates at the end of the book that it is entirely a work of fiction and no persons or events were real.