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Wickett's Remedy: A Novelby Myla Goldberg
Synopses & Reviews
In a multidimensional, intricately wrought narrative, Myla Goldberg leads us back to Boston in the early part of the twentieth century and into two completely captivating worlds. One is that of Lydia, an Irish American shopgirl with bigger aspirations than your average young woman from South Boston. She seems to be well on her way to the life she has dreamed of when she marries Henry Wickett, a shy medical student and the scion of a Boston Brahmin family. However, soon after their wedding, Henry abruptly quits medical school to create a mail-order patent medicine called Wickett's Remedy, and just as Lydia begins to adjust to her husband's new vocation, the infamous Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918 begins its deadly sweep across the world, irrevocably changing their lives.
In a world turned almost unrecognizable by swift and sudden tragedy, Lydia finds herself working as a nurse in an experimental ward dedicated to understanding the raging epidemic — through the use of human subjects.
Meanwhile, a parallel narrative explores the world of QD Soda, the illegitimate offspring of Wickett's Remedy, stolen away by Henry Wickett's one-time business partner Quentin Driscoll, who goes about transforming it into a soft drink empire.
Throughout the novel we hear from a chorus of other voices who offer a running commentary from the book's margins, playing off the ongoing narrative and cleverly illuminating the slippery interplay of perception and memory. Based on years of research and evoking actual events, Wickett's Remedy perfectly captures the texture of the times and brings a colorful cast of characters vividly to life — none more so than Lydia, a heroine as winning and appealing as Eliza, the beloved spelling champion of Bee Season.
With dazzling dexterity, Goldberg has fashioned a novel that beautifully combines the intimate and the epic. Wickett's Remedy announces her arrival as a major novelist.
"[A] rich historical re-creation whose energy and ingenuity evoke memories of E.L. Doctorow's classic Ragtime....A fine novel very much in the American vein, and a quantum leap forward for the gifted Goldberg." Kirkus Reviews
"Like Bee Season, this sorrowful, humorous, and tender novel utterly satisfies. Congratulations to Goldberg on another masterpiece; highly recommended." Library Journal
"Goldberg guides us through...wonderfully well-written chapters that would have made a strong short novel all on their own. Unfortunately, the book's power dissipates in its final movement." New York Times
"Heavy on period detail and literary style, but light on plot, Myla Goldberg's disappointing second novel is easy to set down." Rocky Mountain News
"In spite of its ornate structure, Wickett's Remedy is an appealingly straightforward tale about strength of spirit in times of crisis." Minneapolis Star Tribune
The triumphant follow-up to the bestselling Bee Season, Wickett's Remedy is a brilliant novel about the dream of progress — personal, scientific, commercial, and cultural — featuring a charming heroine whose desire for a better life comes up against the sweep of history.
About the Author
Myla Goldberg is the author of the bestselling Bee Season, which was named a New York Times Notable Book in 2000 and made into a film, and, most recently, of Time's Magpie, a book of essays about Prague. Her short stories have appeared in Harper's, McSweeney's, and failbetter. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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