Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Virgin Cure” as Want to Read:
The Virgin Cure
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Virgin Cure

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,586 Ratings  ·  1,058 Reviews
Following in the footsteps of The Birth House, her powerful debut novel, The Virgin Cure secures Ami McKay's place as one of our most beguiling storytellers. (Not that it has to… that is pretty much taken care of!)

"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
ebook, 275 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Knopf Canada
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Virgin Cure, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Virgin Cure

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Petra X
This is a book I will not read. I have to tread on thin ice here since my last 'will not read' review was hidden (although probably not by the author's request. By someone who calls themselves A Hole, I was told). So thin ice it is.

I read a review of this book that made me think I would enjoy it so I looked up the book page and whoever wrote the synopsis had written the ENTIRE story out. A 45-line synopsis of the story indeed! A blurb would have sufficed.
I was looking forward to reading this, the story sounded interesting, granted disturbing but also interesting. I like reading novels set in this time period, 1871. Most of what I read during this period takes place in England so I was looking forward to reading about the filth and slums of New York City.

Moth is twelve years old, abandoned by her father and sold into servitude by her mother, she becomes a maid to the disturbed and abusive Mrs. Wentworth. Moth quickly realizes she must find anothe
Frances Greenslade
The Virgin Cure is packed with interesting bits of history, period advertisements, and lush descriptions of dresses from Harper's Bazaar. It's a bit like leafing through a wonderful old scrapbook. It also makes me want to go out and buy a corset and gloves. Okay, maybe not the corset. (The descriptions of it are frightening).

I'm not yet finished reading the novel, but the relationship between the female physician (based on McKay's own great grandmother) and the young girl, Moth, is compelling an
Feb 16, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting, enjoyable and informative historical novel set in the mid-1800's detailing the plight of families struggling to survive the slum houses of lower Manhattan based on actual facts from research of author McKay's Great Great Grandmother's life as a doctor during the era.

Moth is a 12 year old girl abandoned by her father and sold by her gypsy fortune teller mother to serve as a ladies maid to the unbalanced and abusive Mrs. Wentworth. Moth eventually escapes the house and finds he
Ami McKay writes with storytelling ease of a young girl named “Moth” by a legendary pear tree on the crossroads of Pear Tree corner. As imaginative as this sounds, and though the novel is filled with a sort of Cirque du Soleil creativity in the trappings of the book’s characters from their costumes to their well-manufactured displays of propriety—the book is anything, but happy.

It tells of the polarity between decadence and poverty in the streets of New York in 1871, the age of mysterious outb
What a unique book! A story based on a dark time in early American history. Young girls were sold/taken in and then their virginity was brokered by a "Madam" for a high fee. What happened to these girls next was anyone's guess. They turned into prostitutes selling themselves away piece by piece. In the later 1800s men carrying Syphilis, often thought that they could be cured by sleeping with an innocent virgin. Her innocent blood would "cure" him, hence the Virgin Cure.

Interesting subject matter
Nov 18, 2011 Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Story Description:

“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, bestselling author Ami McKay’s much-anticipated new novel. Set in the tenements of lower Manhattan in 1871, where the author’s own great-great-grandmother once worked as a groundbreaking female physician, the novel is told in the voice of Moth, the daughter of a Gypsy fortune teller and a ne’er-do-well who abandons them both a smile
Alison DeLory
Nov 07, 2011 Alison DeLory rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like the large bar of dark chocolate I intended to mete out a piece at a time but instead polished off in two days, I planned to read Ami McKay's new book, The Virgin Cure, slowly. Despite my best efforts, I finished it within a week and am left awed and yet still hungry. I hope blogging and talking about it with fellow readers bring me the satiety I seek.

The Virgin Cure is the Dickensian-style story of Moth, a 12-year old girl living on Manhattan's rat-ridden Chrystie Street in 1874. To say Mot
Lee-Ann Sleegers
Jan 12, 2012 Lee-Ann Sleegers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yesterday morning I received a copy of The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay from a friend of mine. It was the book of the month for the Yummy Mummy Book Club and I was eager to start reading it so I could actively participate in the discussion. Anyhow in just over 24 hours I have complete book!

I generally enjoy historical fiction because I usually learn something I didn't know before or am able to relate to other books I've read and The Virgin Cure didn't fail me. From the very beginning of the novel Ms
Sep 02, 2014 Davytron rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-lit
If Slammerkin and The Night Circus had a baby, The Virgin Cure would be the result. Honestly, the entire time it felt like Slammerkin-lite, or "Slammerkin: Now Published by Disney." I know it's not exactly fair to compare the books but the subject matter makes it impossible not to.

The story is narrated by a girl named Moth but the author added in bits of news articles, poems, advertisements, and notes from another character's perspective as well. The book also takes place partly in a carnival/c
I'm back! Didja miss me?

I read, like, a ton of books since I last posted a review (breastfeeding, enough said), so I'm going to start to try to post reviews reverse chronologically. Here goes.

The Virgin Cure. Everyone's familiar with Chekhov's famous quote that a gun in Act 1 must be fired by the last act. Well, if you at all agree with this quote, then DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. Seriously. At the beginning, I was interested, maybe even intrigued - I needed to know how all these mysterious loose end
Joanna Liberty
Aug 07, 2012 Joanna Liberty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay is one of those standout novels that I will continue to think and ruminate about even after my reading and review have been completed. It's a story about the life of Moth, a girl who was abandoned by her parents in the slums of New York back in the 1870's. She is faced with some difficult choices after she manages to escape from the brutal woman to whom her mother sold her services - how can a girl survive by herself in the dangerous and dirty streets of the East Sid ...more
Luanne Ollivier
Oct 25, 2011 Luanne Ollivier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ami McKay's first novel The Birth House was a phenomenal success. I have no doubt that her newly released second novel - The Virgin Cure - will also be bestseller. And, it's one of my favourite reads for 2011.

I was hooked from the opening line..."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."

And so begins the story of Moth, born into the slums of Manhattan in New York City. In 1871 Moth's mother sells her - to a wealthy wo
Jan 20, 2012 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: Sue from work
This was a quick enjoyable read, pure if predictable storytelling. I actually most enjoyed the edges and back of the story.
Some of the Goodreads reviews complained about the sidebar footnotes, but I really liked those, how they acknowledged the unusual, the unexplained and the ephemera of a time past that we don't understand and have little knowledge of. It was sort of like reading in a story in a museum, and these sidebars were the captions for the exhibits. The style of them, at the side of t
MaryannC.Book Fiend
Where do I begin with this? Moth and her fortune-telling mother live in poverty among the mean streets of lower Manhattan. To buy food and sometimes liquor Moth's mother will sell just about anything of value she has to survive, including Moth. 12-year old Moth is brave and street smart, but naive when she is sold to a wealthy, but deranged woman. Believing that she will get to live in a grand house, she endures cruelty and torment from the lady of the house. Once she escapes she encounters Mae, ...more
Debbie Mcnulty
Aug 24, 2012 Debbie Mcnulty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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.”

I loved this book! It starts in the slums of lower Manhattan in 1871. The author weaves for us an unusual tale about a young girl struggling to survive. Early in life Moth is abandoned by her father and in a way her mother too. Although physically present her mother is not emotionally present. Moth finds herself basically sold into the employ of a cruel woman. At the tender ag
Jun 30, 2012 Meagan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. It's infrequent that a book will capture my attention to the point where I am physically unable to put the book down. Right from page one I was captured. Yet again, Ami McKay wrote a book that brings forth the strength of women, and the ability to succeed the impossible. Written in a time period that I love - late 1800's, The Virgin Cure is a book of strength. The amount of research that Ms. McKay obviously did for this book is quite evident, and the end result of a book with such robustnes ...more
Joanne Guidoccio
Mar 26, 2013 Joanne Guidoccio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mixed feelings as we discussed The Virgin Cure at last night’s book club.

While no one really loved the book, many of us liked it enough to consider reading Ami McKay’s highly successful debut novel, The Birth House, and the third in the series, to be released at a later date.

The Virgin Cure was inspired by McKay’s great-great grandmother, Dr. Sadie Fonda Macintosh, who practiced street medicine in the slums. McKay had intended to write the book in her grandmother’s voice, but while writing, she
Jun 09, 2012 Laurie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Twelve year old Moth was given her name by a pear tree and in 1871 is sold into service by her mother, a fortune teller in the slums of New York. Having grown up in abject poverty, Moth, while terrified, is also fascinated by having food, a bed, and a dress that isn’t rags. But the position, as a ladies maid to a sadistic wealthy woman, turns into a horror story that makes even life in poverty look good. Back on the street, now not having even a filthy room with her mother, things look very bad ...more
Paula Dembeck
Aug 31, 2013 Paula Dembeck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second novel from the acclaimed Canadian writer of The Birth House.

Set in the tenements of New York City in the 1870s, it is the story of Moth, the daughter of a gypsy fortune teller and a runaway father, who at the age of twelve is sold by her mother to a rich society lady to be a ladies maid. Mrs Wentworth is the abusive, cruel society matron who Moth works for and from whom she finally escapes, running back to her maternal home. But her mother has disappeared and Moth is now home
Nov 28, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a hard one for me to rate. I liked this book very much, but there were several things that kept me from loving it.

I really liked the character Moth. I loved her spunky ways and pragmatic outlook. There was just something about the way she was written that kept me from totally connecting with her. I liked her and cared about what happened to her, I just didn't feel her pain as my own. I liked her, but didn't love her.

I felt the same way about the female physician in the book. She did wh
Aug 09, 2012 Ricki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really looked forward to reading this book because it seemed such an interesting subject. Somewhere along the way the story began to drag. Moth was a sweet girl who was born into poverty and sold by her gypsy fortunetelling mother to a sadistic woman. I enjoyed reading about the friends she made during this time but after that I had to force myself to keep reading. The story seemed to lack depth. The story did bring to light the sad state of poor girls and their future and the people who preye ...more
Alicia Penney harnum
It was a good story. I like stories based on history or facts. This book wasn't as good as McKay's first novel. There were parts of the story which left loose ends and she didn't fall through with. Towards the last quarter of the book, the protagonist (a 12 year old girl) takes on too much understanding of men. Realistically, I don't think a twelve year old would have the thoughts or inklings that McKay wrote for her, no matter what she had witnessed.
I found Sadie, Moth and Cadet to be under de
Nov 07, 2011 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves a good book
It is no secret that Ami McKay's The Birth House is one of my all-time favourite reads. I've been eagerly anticipating McKay's new work of fiction, The Virgin Cure for what seems like years.

After finishing The Virgin Cure I am most struck by McKay's style. The story is, of course, captivating; so much so that I didn't stop once to make an annotation in my book as I am wont to do. But the novel's structure is what really causes me to stop and comment.

When I first started reading The Virgin Cure,
Nov 27, 2011 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story takes place in 19th century New York. At the time there was the myth that having sex with a young virgin girl would cure a man of syphilis. A similar belief about the cure of AIDS also contributed to the spread of that disease in Africa.
The story revolves around a 12 year old girl named Moth. She is part Gypsy and lives in extreme poverty with her fortune telling mother. The filth and squalor of her surroundings is vividly described. Her mother sells the young girl to a wealthy woma
May 20, 2013 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction is really not my favorite genre but I thought I would give it a try in an effort to learn something while reading. And I did learn a few things about New York life in the 1870s. Mostly I found the culture hugely brutalistic and the gap between rich and poor so hugely vast. I'll admit the end of the book made me queasy hearing from a young girls perspective exactly what they were put through to get off of the street, and also the way society just overlooked violent rapes if the ...more
♥ Sandi
Jun 07, 2015 ♥ Sandi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1-have
Moth was born and raised by a single mother in the poorest section of the Bowery in the late 1800's. Her mother sold her to a wealthy woman as a personal maid. There she was abused until she was able to run away with the help of the Butler. Life on the street was tough. She was finally taken into a "house" by a wealthy woman, to make her a lady - a Lady of the Night - with the intent of selling her to the highest bidder. Her virginity was for sale. The "gentleman" who became the highest bidder w ...more
Diane S ☔
3.5 In 1870 over thirty thousand children lived on the streets in New York, and at the age of twelve Moth, the main character becomes one such child, if only for a short time. Had no idea the numbers were so large and that what happened to these children so heartbreaking. This is the story of Moth and also of Dr. Sadie, who tries to help the indigent in whatever small ways she can. Enjoyed this book, and the newspaper articles and small asides were a big plus, helping the reader really enter int ...more
New York in the late 1800's was particularly unkind to young girls from the slums. Twelve-year old Moth, abandoned by her father and raised by her reluctant mother, is eventually sold into servitude, and she learns quickly what she must do to survive. The Virgin Cure is told from Moth's perspective with interjections from Dr. Sadie, a female doctor who worked with girls and women from the brothels of lower Manhattan. Included throughout the story are historic advertisements, articles, and poems. ...more
Jan 11, 2012 Kasia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
It's possible my expectations were too high from having read The Birth House but there's no other way to say it: I was sorely disappointed. I never developed any empathy for Moth or Dr Sadie and was frankly kerflummuxod by all the loose ends. Most confusing of all is how the 'virgin cure' issue itself floats around the central character but doesn't actually become part of her story, making it feel like some editor somewhere decided 'The Virgin Cure' would make a catchier title than 'Moth' or 'Th ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: adding an edition 3 27 Nov 29, 2012 02:08PM  
  • Natural Order
  • The Little Shadows
  • The Reinvention of Love
  • Falling Backwards
  • The High Road
  • The Whole Truth
  • Requiem
  • Alone in the Classroom
  • Kit's Law
  • Mistress Of Nothing
  • Bedtime Story
  • The Midwife of Venice
  • Everything Was Goodbye
  • Any Known Blood
  • The Town That Drowned
  • Into the Heart of the Country
  • The Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor
  • Bride of New France
Ami McKay’s debut novel, The Birth House was a # 1 bestseller in Canada, winner of three CBA Libris Awards, nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and a book club favourite around the world.

Her new novel. The Virgin Cure, is inspired by the life of her great- great grandmother, Dr. Sarah Fonda Mackintosh, a female physician in nineteenth century New York. Born and raised in
More about Ami McKay...

Share This Book

“Sometimes, for a moment, everything is just as you need it to be. The memories of such moments live in the heart, waiting for the time you need to think of them, if only to remind yourself that for a short while, everything had been fine, and might be so again.” 14 likes
“The house seemed almost without smells at all, pleasant or foul, leaving me to wonder if the upper class existed on a different sort of air from the rest of the world, a breeze piped into their homes from above the clouds, so clean you had to pay for it.” 2 likes
More quotes…