Book Review Club ~ February 2012
Here we are again, on the first Wednesday of the month, and it’s another meeting of Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club!
This month, I’ll be reviewing DEADLY by Julie Chibbaro.
Honestly, this book has been on my Amazon wish list for some time. I found the premise: a nineteeth century young woman’s role in ferreting out the cause of typhoid fever, simply irresistible. I’m very fond of books that infuse history into their storylines. For someone like me who reads very little nonfiction, this is a way to sneak a bit in.
The story, written as a series of journal entries by Prudence Galewski who is living with her mother in New York City, begins in September 1906. Her brother has died of infection and her father has left to become a soldier, fighting for America in Cuba. Her mother is a midwife and Prudence assists her while attending a rather short-sighted (in Prudence’s opinion) School for Girls whose focus is training the girls to be shop girls or assistants…or wives. Prudence doesn’t want any of these things. She doesn’t believe she’ll ever fall in love, and she wants to do something useful with her life–she wants to understand the human body and disease. She wants to learn why so many young mothers die in childbirth and why so many fall people sick to disease. When an opportunity presents itself for her to be the assistant to a man at the Department of Health and Sanitation, she is simultaneously thrilled and uncertain. Her mother does not initially support the idea, and Prudence will be required to leave school. Prudence eventually decides to accept the job, and from that point on, the novel reads like a CSI mystery as Prudence and her boss, Mr. Soper, attempt to discover the reason behind a recent outbreak of typhoid fever. Then the excitement is ratcheted up even further as the story slides into action/adventure territory. And through it all, Prudence is facing some troubling realities about herself, her life, and her family.
Written in simple but lovely prose, DEADLY was a joy to read.
“For tonight, I will tie together these fluttering ribbons of feelings and simply enjoy his company.”
I was riveted by the fascinating and occasionally gruesome storyline, but it was Prudence’s curious, intelligent, and honest view of life and everything in it that made this a truly memorable read. And now I know a bit about the infamous Typhoid Mary too. Intrigued? I recommend picking DEADLY up!
Interested in reading some carefully crafted reviews? Swing by Barrie Summy’s blog and catch up with the rest of the Book Review Club!
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Posted in book review club on 02/01/2012 12:10 am