multidimensional, intricately wrought narrative, Myla Goldberg leads us
back to Boston in the early part of the twentieth century and into two
completely captivating worlds. One is that of Lydia, an Irish American
shopgirl with bigger aspirations than your average young woman from
South Boston. She seems to be well on her way to the life she has
dreamed of when she marries Henry Wickett, a shy medical student and the
scion of a Boston Brahmin family. However, soon after their wedding,
Henry abruptly quits medical school to create a mail-order patent
medicine called Wickett's Remedy, and just as Lydia begins to adjust
to her husband's new vocation, the infamous Spanish influenza epidemic
of 1918 begins its deadly sweep across the world, irrevocably changing
In a world turned almost unrecognizable by swift and sudden tragedy,
Lydia finds herself working as a nurse in an experimental ward dedicated
to understanding the raging epidemicthrough the use of human
Meanwhile, a parallel narrative explores the world of QD Soda, the
illegitimate offspring of Wickett's Remedy, stolen away by Henry
Wickett's one-time business partner Quentin Driscoll, who goes about
transforming it into a soft drink empire.
Throughout the novel we hear from a chorus of other voices who offer a
running commentary from the book's margins, playing off the ongoing
narrative and cleverly illuminating the slippery interplay of perception
and memory. Based on years of research and evoking actual events, Wickett's
Remedy perfectly captures the texture of the times and brings a
colorful cast of characters vividly to lifenone more so than Lydia, a
heroine as winning and appealing as Eliza, the beloved spelling champion
of Bee Season.
With dazzling dexterity, Goldberg has fashioned a novel that beautifully
combines the intimate and the epic. Wickett's Remedy announces
her arrival as a major novelist.
.... as well-researched, polished and poignant as the book is, Goldberg never quite locks in her characters' mindsets, and sometimes seems adrift amid period detritus.
Booklist - Joanne Wilkinson
With its warm, involving story line and intrinsically interesting subject matter, this is sure to be popular with the book-club crowd.
Library Journal - Jyna Scheeren
Starred Review. An epic story that is sure to become a classic .. Like Bee Season,
this sorrowful, humorous and tender novel utterly satisfies. Congratulations to Goldberg on another masterpiece.
Starred Review. A rich
historical re-creation whose energy and ingenuity evoke memories of EL
Doctorow's classic Ragtime, Stephen Milhauser's Pulitzer
Prize winner Martin Dressler and Thomas McMahon's forgotten
picturesque mini masterpiece McKay's Bees. A fine novel....And a quantum leap forward for the gifted Goldberg.
Myla Goldberg is the author of the bestselling Bee
Season; an essay collection, Times Magpie, which explores all
her favorite places in Prague, where she lived for a year in the early nineties;
and Wicketts Remedy which grew out of her fascination with the 1918
influenza epidemic. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, cartoonist Jason
Little, and their daughter.
Despite the misleading name, the "Spanish Flu" epidemic of 1918-1919
was first identified in early March 1918 at a US military camp in Kansas; by
October it had spread worldwide. By the time it died out 18 months
later it is estimated that 2.5-5% of the world's population had died and 20%
had been effected. Estimates of the numbers killed vary widely, from
about 25 million to 100 million; with about 500,000-675,000 of those being
in the USA (more than all wars of the 20th century), 200,000 in the UK and
17 million in India.
To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret, and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.
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