The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From Goodreads: "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."
The Virgin Cure begins in the tenements of lower Manhattan in the year 1871. A series of betrayals lead Moth, at only twelve years old, to the wild, murky world of the Bowery, 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.
While Moth's housemates risk falling prey to the myth of the "virgin cure"--the belief that deflowering a girl can heal the incurable and tainted--her new friend Dr. Sadie warns Moth to question and observe the world around her so she won't share the same fate. Still, Moth 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
I really enjoyed this one. The only thing I would want different is for it to be longer! Around the last 90 pages I kept thinking that there HAS to be more to the story.
Moth was a good character. Innocent, trying not to be. Trying to survive. As much as she tries to be ruthless or heartless and make herself out to be older than she is, she is still a young girl at heart needing someone to love her. Dr. Sadie was such a sweet woman and I love how her story ended. She had such a good heart and I really hoped that what she did for a living made a difference. Which for Moth, it certainly made life more bearable.
The personalities of Rose, Mae and Alice was fantastic. McKay covered all the bases for girls who would be in a brothel and played their characters just right in the story. It was a struggle to get through some parts and I found myself disgusted with the behavior of the men, but that was the point of the story.
I loved the setting and how well McKay described everything. I could almost feel the grit and dirt Moth lived in. She went into enough detail to disturb you, but left a lot to the imagination. The path that took Moth to Miss Fenwick - one of Miss Everett's girls was a bumpy one, a hard one and ended up being rewarding.
Highly recommend this one for anyone who is a historical novel fan.
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