Excerpt from The Lady's Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Lady's Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness

by Sarah Ramey

The Lady's Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey X
The Lady's Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2020, 432 pages
    May 2021, 432 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

The growing doctor-patient antipathy.
The dramatic health avalanche.
The clocks. The candlesticks.
The despair.

I thought I was the strangest medical case on the East Coast.
I was wrong.


Seventeen years later, I have become a well-known woman with a mysterious illness.

In the early years of this distinction, other women with mysterious illnesses would frequently introduce themselves to me, often at the most unexpected moments—at weddings, in elevators, or leaning across a bank of guests at a crowded Thanksgiving table—all wanting to discuss their own mysterious maladies. I just had to speak the words candida or subclinical hypothyroid—or the most potent of all, gluten—and three heads would rubberband in my direction. They either knew a woman with a mysterious illness, were married to a woman with a mysterious illness, or were themselves a woman with a mysterious illness. While other people grilled kebabs, we would speak discreetly and in low tones about constipation. When the daiquiri pitcher appeared from the kitchen, we would duck our heads to discuss whether or not daiquiris were gluten-free. At elegant cocktail parties, women were constantly pulling me into corners to talk about their vaginas.

You most likely know one of us already—a coworker, an aunt, a sister—some beleaguered old girl endlessly dealing with her health issues. She'll be reluctant to talk about the particulars but noticeably lacking in a solid diagnosis. Most people privately agree she actually suffers from an acute case of hypochondria.

This woman may not know it yet, but she is in the club.

From The Lady's Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey, to be published March 17th by Doubleday, an imprint of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2020 by Sarah Ramey

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