Customer Reviews for

The Book of Madness and Cures: A Novel

Average Rating 3.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

THE BOOK OF MADNESS AND CURES, by Regina O'Melveny This book is

THE BOOK OF MADNESS AND CURES, by Regina O'Melveny

This book is an excellent example of the reason why book lovers read. Because every once in a while we get to read a book this good.

If I didn't know better I'd almost believe Ms. O'Melveny discovered a previously un...
THE BOOK OF MADNESS AND CURES, by Regina O'Melveny

This book is an excellent example of the reason why book lovers read. Because every once in a while we get to read a book this good.

If I didn't know better I'd almost believe Ms. O'Melveny discovered a previously unpublished diary written by a woman in 1500s Venice who trained with her father as a physician. This is the story of her journey to find her father who left Venice to seek more information to include in the book he is writing (with his daughter's assistance) called "The Book of Madness and Cures" detailing the understanding of mental illness, or "madness" as it was conceived at the time.

As her father traveled through Europe and England, meeting with other Doctors to gather information for his book, he sent letters back home, sharing what he learns and what he thinks about the information. His letters become more and more disturbing and distressing in tone, and come less and less frequently.

After ten years, the daughter decides she must follow her father and find him, leaving Venice with two servants, using her father's letters as a guide. The journey is fascinating as are the people she meets. At that time, in some places, if it was discovered she practiced "medicine" especially using any herbs or plants or their derivatives, she would be accused of witchcraft and executed, so she must hide her training and knowledge, while seeking out and engaging doctors her father mentioned in his letters.

I will not spoil the book by continuing with the story, but it is so very, very worth reading to find out.

Ms. O'Melveny's voice is rich, authentic, poignant and moving. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I am quite sure it is one I will remember for many years.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in return for a review and will be posting it on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads and Library Thing and subsequently on a blog of reviews I am preparing.

posted by Muse_of_Hell on September 8, 2012

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

A unique romp around Europe in the renaissance era.

Delivered in a first person narrative The Book of Madness and Cures is a Renaissance tale of the life of Dr. Gabriella Mondini a women physician living in the 16th century in Italy. Gabriella practices medicine during a time when women holding this title were considered...
Delivered in a first person narrative The Book of Madness and Cures is a Renaissance tale of the life of Dr. Gabriella Mondini a women physician living in the 16th century in Italy. Gabriella practices medicine during a time when women holding this title were considered to be witches or sorcerers and when persecution was high. However Gabriella lives in Venice which is a little more advanced in their belief systems. Gabriella decided to leave her comfortable live to travel across Europe in search of her father who seems to have disappeared. With nothing left of her father but old letters he had sent her Gabriella decides to leave her disapproving mother behind in search of her father. With some donkeys and her servants Gabriella heads out on a long journey. Along the way her planned stops consist of her fathers previous colleagues where at times Gabriella learns some disturbing things about her father.

I found their travels interesting and uneventful. However I felt this book was lacking something when it came to the characters themselves. Although I enjoyed them, at times they were quite odd including Gabriella herself. I can imagine this is to be expected for this era and what the characters lacked the author made up for with historical detail. This book was great in the historical fiction category. However I feel it would work best for those who are more into the renaissance era overall as sometimes I found it hard to relate to the peculiar behavior and prose used by the author.

posted by autumnbluesreviews on April 22, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012

    Just couldn't get through it

    I just had a hard time pushing forward. Seems like it takes forever to move a plot point, and in the meantime its like the same thing over and over. They visit a town, talk to a doctor, she reads one of her fathers letters that she carries, they move on. Yawn.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2012

    I purchased this book in the audio version. The reader appears

    I purchased this book in the audio version. The reader appears to be British..... her Italian pronunciation was disconcerting...especially since the main characters were supposed to be Venetian... the Venetian servants were always able to speak with the servants of other countries.... their command of other languages without benefit of education truly amazing to me.....but all that could have been overlooked if the story was good.... and unfortunately it wasn't... in my opinion this was good renaissance research in search of a good story.... the characters were not well drawn.....and their relationships.... more like WHAT relationships?? were equally poorly drawn...... it was hard to imagine why any of her father's 'friends/frenemies" would have bothered to take in this young woman...... I felt like I was viewing all of them thru a smoky glass and could not see them.... and she supposedly inspires passion in at least two young men.... yet in the second case... the imagery around their copulation was so subtle I missed it!! only figured out what was meant later.... anyway.... would not bother with this one... it was interesting otherwise I would have given it 1 star... I think the author should stick to poetry...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    NOT A FAVORITE I really wasn't thrilled by this book. Generally,

    NOT A FAVORITE
    I really wasn't thrilled by this book. Generally, I really love historical fiction, but not this one. It was very slow. I couldn't really get into the plot: a female "doctor" in 1591 Venice, Italy on a search all over the world for her missing father, also a doctor, who went in search of cures for his malady(madness)-thus tying in the title. Both father and daughter were writing books about the diseases they encountered. Her journey to find her father took her to Germany, Holland, France, Scotland, Spain, Africa. The entries into her book were just stories of patients she either treated or heard of through the people she encountered. Although well written in terms of language and structure, I just didn't get into this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2013

    What a tough read.

    What a tough read.

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  • Posted January 13, 2013

    Ever author has something in mind when they write a story.  Ever

    Ever author has something in mind when they write a story.  Every reader gets something from that story.  For me, the story about the main characters in the 1500's was really interesting,  but the rest of the story read like 'ONE FLEW OVER THE COOCOE'S NEST' for me. Psychotic or schizophrenic ramblings with mythical cures.  Eat from the wall and disappear---dream about something and end up someplace else----butterflies doing ?what?.  Think I'm too literal about medical and psychological issues to really appreciate those parts of the book. 

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