Fabulous Fiction Firsts #325
Called "darkly whimsical", poet Regina O'Melveny's debut novel The Book of Madness and Cures * joins the likes of Galileo's Daughter; Ariana Franklin's Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar in The Mistress of the Art of Death; and fictional biographies of 16th Century artist Artemisia Gentileschi - intimate looks at strong women greatly influenced by their renowned fathers and inhibited lives ahead of their time.
Dr. Gabriella Mondini - competent, strong-willed, and a dedicated physician is about to lose the Venetian guild endorsement to practice medicine now that her father has disappeared for a decade. Almost overnight, Gabriella decides to set off on a quest to find him - a daunting journey that will take her through great university cities and remote villages across Europe. Despite setbacks, wary strangers, and the menaces of the road, the young doctor bravely follows the clues to her lost father, all the while continuing with her father's ambitious research for The Book of Diseases.
"Gorgeous and brilliantly written, and filled with details about science, medicine, food, and madness", O'Melveny draws on her Italian artist mother's memories of Venice and her own father's disappearance when she was young to create a story of real longing.
* = Starred review