The Book of Madness and Cures

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The Book of Madness and Cures: A Novel by Regina O’ Melveny

In 1590, Venetian woman, Dr. Gabriella Mondini, finds herself losing the very thing she absolutely holds dear, her ability to practice medicine.

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The men in the community had never been supportive of Gabriella, and with her father being gone for the past ten years they feel there is no one to monitor her and that they no longer have to do honor such a doctorship.

It's not fair.

It’s not fair.

Gabriells is furious, but knows what she must do. She must find her father, a feat that will be near impossible as she has no clue where he is.

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She has letters from his travels and search to complete The Book of Diseases, but even they do not hold a clear path.

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Aided by her friend and servant; the women set off in search of the other Dr. Mondini.

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Thoughts After Reading:

So I did not like this book.

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My biggest issue with it was the character of Gabriella.

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Now I understand that Gabriella is women in 16th century Venice and a doctor; but that doesn’t mean you have to make her character like a block of wood.

NO emotion = BORING!

NO emotion = BORING!

Everything was stilted and emotionless. This is not what you should do with a main character. We have to connect to them, feel for them, understand them, become a part of them and their lives; and I felt that this book did not do that at all. I couldn’t stand Gabriella.

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For more mysteries set in Italy, go to The Italian Wife

For more historical fiction novels, go to The Midwife’s Tale

For more not in a series mystery, go to Where Are You Now?

For more mysteries, go to Carrot Cake Murder

The Italian Wife

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The Italian Wife by Kate Furnivall

The year is 1922 and Isabella Berotti is a young, expectant mother living in Milan. She and her husband are visiting the outdoor markets when he is shot and killed. Isabella rushes over to help him, and is shot in the back, losing her baby and ability to walk.

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Ten years later, Isabella has used all that frustration and grief to motivate her into walking, only suffering from a slight limp, and achieve her dream of becoming an architect. She is currently residing in Bellina, helping to achieve Mussolini’s dream of reclaiming the marshlands for Italy, and creating a modern state.

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While life has been good, the day of the accident and death of her husband still haunts her. This anniversary she is spending her time reminiscing at a café, when a woman approaches her asking if she could watch her daughter Rosa. Before she can refuse, the woman whispers that “they” know who really killed Isabella’s husband and takes off. Intrigued as to what the woman may know, Isabella sits with Rosa, entertaining her. Everything is fine until Isabella sees the woman throw herself off a building Isabella created.

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Now Isabella finds herself caught up in a web of political intrigue, as Rosa proves to be a powerful piece both the fascists and the rebels wish to use. She teams up with a photographer, Roberto Falco, to protect Rosa, remain out of prison, bring to light the dirty deals in government, and finally solve who murdered her husband.

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Thoughts After Reading:

I absolutely loved this book.

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I thought it was thrilling, interesting, and impossible to put down. The historical truths of Mussilini attempting to control and reshape the land, even going as far as building cities and farms in impossible places, was a fascinating backdrop and made me interested to learn even more.

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The writing was extremely well done and the characters are multi-dimensional, lovable, and always exceeding my expectations as to what would happen next. In fact, I am not only looking forward to her next project, but planning on reading everything she has written prior to this novel.

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I would give it five out of five stars.

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For more stand alone mysteries, go to The Unsolvable Mystery: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

For more mysteries, go to The Silence of the Llamas