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The Book Of Madness And Cures

by Emelina Minero
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Apr 5, 2012
The Book Of Madness And Cures

"The Book of Madness and Cures" by Regina O'Melveny is a feminist novel set in sixteenth-century Europe.

In an environment where whole cities have been wiped of women and children, for fear of witchcraft, a world where a woman has no autonomy or vocation outside of what a man gives her, this is the world that Gabriella Mondini inhabits. Although she lives in an unjust world, she doesn't let her circumstances stop her from practicing medicine, traveling Europe unaccompanied by a man or bearing the name of her father, Doctor Mondini.

Gabriella leaves her hometown in Italy and ventures throughout Europe to find her father, who has gone missing after 10 years of travel to complete "The Book of Diseases," a book they compiled together.

"The Book of Madness and Cures" is character driven. The story progresses through Gabriella's take on the world: her fascination with the human body, bones, diseases, healing and her obsession with finding her father. We see the world through her eyes, her thoughts, dreams, writing and the scattered letters that her father wrote her while away.

"The Book of Madness and Cures" is rich with vivid description, which helps bring Gabriella's world to life. Although the imagery and detail are strong, it is simultaneously a weakness, sometimes slowing down the forward momentum of the story.

For the philosophical or scientific of mind, "The Book of Madness and Cures" is the book to read. Gabriella's thought process is very linear and literal, but she also has a strong intuition and can pick up on things unseen by most, like the veil between the dead and the living, the fine line between madness and sanity, or illusion and reality.

O'Melveny plays with these deeper themes throughout her book, revealing the diversity in perspective and the gray matter that lies between black and white thinking.

The religious leaders who were supposed to be pure instead lead crusades to kill and confine others. The male doctors who were supposed to heal often raped the women they were supposed to be caring for. "The Book of Madness and Cures" created a world where one couldn't trust what was known as public knowledge. Gabriella had to forge her own path to find the truth she was after.

The Book of Madness and Cures
Regina O'Melveny
Little, Brown and Company

Emelina Minero writes for Curve Magazine. She also runs two online communities: Community Bucket List, which helps people to achieve their goals and live their passions and the Love Warrior Community, which helps people to cultivate self-love and body acceptance.


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