The Virgin CureAuthor: Ami McKay
Imprint: Orion Fiction
Featured in the May, 2012 magazine
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'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 1871. As a young child, Moth's father smiled, tipped his hat and walked away from her forever. The summer she turned twelve, her mother sold her as a servant to a wealthy woman, 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, where eventually she meets Miss Everett, the owner of a brothel simply known as The Infant School . Miss Everett caters to gentlemen who pay dearly for companions and the most desirable of them all are young virgins like Moth. Through the friendship of Dr Sadie, a female physician, Moth learns to question and observe the world around her, where her new friends are falling prey to the myth of the virgin cure - that deflowering a maid can heal the incurable and tainted. She knows the law will not protect her, that polite society ignores her and 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...
Ami McKay’s research for this novel is meticulous and her portrait of New York in 1871 is vivid.
Review by: Tessa Wooldrige