Monday, November 11, 2013

The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay

This is the second book I have read my McKay.  I enjoyed it immensely. Moth is first abandoned at age 5 by her father.  Then at age 12 her mother sells her to a lady to be her maid. This is 1871 in Five Points NYC. Moth escapes the abusive situation and goes back home to Chrystie Street. But her mother is no where.  Eventually she ends up in a brothel.  She is groomed by the madam.  Her virginity will be sold to the highest bidder. You must read this book to find out what becomes of her!
National Canadian Bestseller
CBA Libris Award “Book of the Year” Nominee
O Magazine July 2012 “The Books of Summer” pick
Book of the Month Club – “Blue Ribbon Pick”
“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 the year 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 who are “willing and clean,” 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 “fresh 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. – From the publisher  From McKay's site....

Excerpt
The Virgin Cure
TO THE READER:

In 1871, I was serving as a visiting physician for the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children. While seeing to the health and well-being of the residents of the Lower East Side, I met a young girl, twelve years of age, named Moth. In the pages that follow, you will find her story, told in her own words, along with occasional notes from my hand. In the tradition of my profession, I intended to limit my remarks to scientific observations only, but in the places where I felt compelled to do so, I've added a page or two from my past. These additions are offered in kindness and with the best of intentions.
OCTOBER 1878 S.F.H., DOCTOR OF MEDICINE

Recall ages - One age is but a part - ages are but a part;
Recall the angers, bickerings, delusions, superstitions, of the idea of caste,
Recall the bloody cruelties and crimes.
Anticipate the best women;
I say an unnumbered new race of hardy and well-defined
women are to spread through all These States,
I say a girl fit for These States must be free, capable, dauntless,
just the same as a boy.
- WALT WHITMAN

Shrewdness, large capital, business enterprise, are all
enlisted in the lawless stimulation of this mighty instinct of sex.
- DR. ELIZABETH BLACKWELL,
Founder of the New York Infirmary
for Indigent Women and Children
PROLOGUE
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.

My father ran off when I was three years old. He emptied the rent money out of the biscuit tin and took my mother's only piece of silver - a tarnished sugar bowl she'd found in the rubble of a Third Avenue fire.

"Don't go..." Mama would call out in her sleep, begging and pulling at the blanket we shared as if it were the sleeve of my father's coat. Lying next to her, I'd wish for morning and the hours when she'd go back to hating him. At least then her bitterness would be awake enough to keep her alive.

She never held my hand in hers or let me kiss her cheeks. If I asked to sit on her lap, she'd pout and push me away and say, "When you were a baby, I held you until I thought my arms would fall off. Oh, Child, that should be enough.

"I didn't mind. I loved her.

I loved the way she'd tie her silk scarf around her head and then bring the ends of it to trail down her neck. I loved how she'd grin, baring her teeth all the way up to the top of her gums when she looked at herself in the mirror, how she'd toss her shawl around her shoulders and run her fingers through the black fringe of it before setting her fortune-teller's sign in the window for the day. The sign had a pretty, long-fingered hand painted right in the middle, with lines and arrows and words criss-crossing the palm. The Ring of Solomon, The Girdle of Venus. Head, heart, fate, fortune, life. Those were the first words I ever read.



It was my father who gave me my name. Mama said it came to him at a place called Pear Tree Corner - "whispered by a tree so old it knew all the secrets of New York." The apothecary who owned the storefront there told my father that he could ask the tree any question he liked and if he listened hard enough it would answer. My father believed him.

"Call the child Moth," the twisted tree had said, its branches bending low, leaves brushing against my father's ear. Mama had been there too, round-faced and waddling with me inside her belly, but she didn't hear it.

"It was the strangest, most curious thing," my father told her. "Like when a pretty girl first tells you she loves you. I swear to God."

Mama said she'd rather call me Ada, after Miss Ada St. Clair, the wealthiest lady she'd ever met, but my father wouldn't allow it. He didn't care that Miss St. Clair had a diamond ring for every finger and two pug dogs grunting and panting at her feet. He was sure that going against what the tree had said would bring bad luck. 

Read more here.

Pages: 319

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