Wickett's Remedy
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Wickett's Remedy

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3.25 of 5 stars 3.25  ·  rating details  ·  1,431 ratings  ·  253 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 ma...more
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published September 20th 2005 by Doubleday (first published 2005)
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Geraldine
Finished listening to this after a few road trips. I enjoyed "Bee Season" much more--I think Goldberg bit off more than she could chew with this one. Her first novel was an intense study of a dysfunctional family, and her focus and writing talent really shone. "Wickett's Remedy" tried to be way too many things--history, social critique, epic, experimental combination of fiction and primary sources. The effect diluted the main character, Lydia, and the reader never really knows enough about her t...more
Holli
I liked the book better than the reviewer below. I was very interested in the history of the flu epidemic and felt the author did a good job in bringing the period to life. I also liked the margin comments by the dead—reminded me of the graveyard scene in Our Town. They demonstrated how there are always many sides to a story, depending on our perspective. They added a bit of humor and a reminder not to take ourselves too seriously. I question the reviewer’s statement that we never truly know Ly...more
Pat Cal
I thought this was absolutely charming. The writing was intelligent and had depth, yet wasn't too flowery. The plot went quietly for a while, and then things started to come together at the end. I enjoyed hearing the comments of those who had passed, as they were fiesty and very human. (Notice, we never heard Lydia's comments.) I also enjoyed how the historical background made dry facts come alive.
Tobinsfavorite
This book spent a number of years hovering near the top of my reading list, but it kept getting bumped by other books until finally I just borrowed it from the library even though I was reading something else. For some reason, I thought this book would be about Lydia and Henry and the Remedy during the 1918 flu epidemic, but not very far into the book it became obvious that the book would not be about that at all. At first, I was disappointed, but the unexpected book was very good, engrossing, a...more
Anna
Nov 30, 2007 Anna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history fans, romantics, hypochondriacs
I grabbed this because I liked Bee Season well enough and it cost $3 and I had nothing to read. I was well-rewarded for my $3 gamble. One thing that made the book extra-resonant with me was that I started reading it just before I got a bad head cold, so the whole time I was reading about the Spanish Influenza outbreak, I was sick as well. It was weird. I'm not recommending contracting the flu before you read, though.

This novel isn't structured like most others; Goldberg uses margin notes to corr...more
Sheila
I wanted to read this book to learn more about the 1918-1919 flu epidemic. While I did learn more about the epidemic, I was not happy with the style of writing. I found the anecdotes written in the margins of each page disrupted the flow of the story. I finally stopped reading them. There were letters written throughout the book but it took me a long time to figure out who was actually writing them. I'm not sure what they added to the story. Lydia marries a young man, Henry who is in medical sch...more
Jessica Severson
I was lukewarm for Myla Goldberg's first novel and the same was true for her second. It's not that she's bad at writing. It's that something about the form of her novels really rubs me the wrong way. This one worked well when it was actually being a novel. But all the little extra scenes that left the narrative were distracting and didn't add much. Also the dead serving as a peanut gallery of sorts, always tossing in their two cents on what actually happened, similarly falls flat.

It's a shame b...more
Erika
I listened to this on audio. Myla Goldberg I think you might have the most annoying voice in the world. The actual story was good but I couldn't like the character very much because of her prissy little voice. The weird stuff in the middle was terrible. The dead people speaking - weird. The newspaper reports and soldiers talking - they all had the same exact voice. An annoying one.
H
I wish I could give this book a better review, as I wanted to like it. But the story was too slow to start, the device of having "the dead" speak to the reader in margin notes was ultimately distracting and did not add to the narrative, the interweaved story told of QD soda and the meandering of its founder felt forced, and the main character remained remote and unknown.
Melanie
I turned to this after reading Goldberg's insanely successful 'Bee Season' and found it a bit of a struggle to get into this novel. Again dark topics abound with the Influenza epidemic and WWI, but there is a lot of human interest to the characters Goldberg places in this period of Boston's history.
Cormacjosh
This book was not great, but not bad either. The main plot of the story, which revolves around the 1918 flu epidemic was very well written. The subplot involving QD soda was somewhat less well developed, and even though it was all tied together in the end, it was hard to feel a connection to the characters in the subplot.

In fact, the subplot was disruptive to the flow of the main story. I think that one of the things that made this book tolerable for me is the vivid descriptions of the great cit...more
Pris robichaud


As they lay Dying, -The 1918 Influenza Epidemic, 20 Nov 2006


"The 1918 influenza epidemic-whose cause is sill a matter of debate-killed more Americans in tem months than died in all twentieth century wars combined and killed well over 20 million people worldwide. Gallups Island, now known as Gallop Island, in Boston Harbor was in November and December of 1918 the site of a United States Public Health Service study designed to determine the cause and mode of the spread of the illness. The subject...more
Audra
Another example of the magic performed by a writer who goes to primary sources and other documents to flesh out an idea and then creates a whole world bringing that time (and those characters) to life. How lucky we are to read the products of those people.

Main character: Lydia Kilkenny, an intensely emotional, energetic, bright Boston “Southie” with love of family and place but also with aspirations to move into the larger world. First, in the department store; then marrying Henry Wickett and as...more
Nicole
I liked this book for it's unique format of prose that told the story, as well as letters, newspaper articles, and conversations that filled in some of the details. These additional perspectives often came from many years, sometimes decades, after the time of the story being told. I also thoroughly enjoyed the tidbits of information added in the margins. Bits of insight from an insubstantial group of "Us" that were just plain interesting if only because I've never read a book that used anything...more
Kim
From December 2005 School Library Journal:
It is 1918 and America is on the brink of entering Europe’s Great War. Lydia Kilkenny, a Boston shopgirl, is swept up in a hurried romance with Henry Wickett, a young medical student who soon after their marriage casts his studies aside in favor of developing a remedy to help rejuvenate people who suffer from “hypochondriacal illnesses.” His mail order business enjoys some success, but when he contracts influenza, Lydia is suddenly left a widow. Before s...more
Lindsay
I first read this book a few years ago and always wanted to write something on it. I don’t remember it being the most engrossing book I’ve ever read but there’s an addition to the narrative that’s fascinating.

In Boston in the early twentieth century, a shop girl named Lydia marries above her station to Henry, a medical student from a wealthy family. She’s disappointed, however, when her husband drops out of school to pursue a new venture, a mail-order medicine called Wickett’s Remedy. He’s convi...more
Lynne
A story woven through with bits of narrative, newspaper articles, letters, and overheard conversation, Wickett's Remedy takes place during the Spanish influenza epidemic in Boston, focusing around a woman named Lydia. Lydia marries young, her husband is a frail man from a wealthy family who doesn't want to be the doctor his parents have sent him off to be, and who develops the idea of "Wickett's Remedy." Henry wanted to be a journalist, and believes in the healing power words can bring. And so,...more
Claire
A very lyrical book. Interesting set of characters, interesting set of events, but what I loved most was the interplay between memory and reality and the visual representation of that interplay. The format of the book is unique--the margins on the sides of the pages are probably an inch or two wider than most books, and in that space Goldberg creates a quiet, whispering voice that twines around the main narrative. The font is different and smaller and the recollections are no longer than a coupl...more
Erica - Bonner Springs Library
Oct 11, 2010 Erica - Bonner Springs Library rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone up for a great audio book
I loved this as an audiobook. Myla Goldberg, the author, is the reader and she does a fabulous job. The story is not only intriguing and interesting but the different parts of the book revolving around QD Soda and Lydia and how they are portrayed in the audio book really makes the whole audio book so enjoyable. I can imagine that this would be distracting as a reader of the book. The different sections weren't just read they have sounds to alert you what part of the book you're being read. It's...more
Lori
An interesting book to listen to while hearing about the present day swine flu. It's about the Spanish Influenza outbreak and set in Boston. The ignorance of the flu at that time is amazing.

The voices on the audiobook were at first confusing. Then, I really enjoyed them and they added to the story. Besides the narrator ( who is the author) there are ethereal voices that are from dead people as individuals and from the dead as a whole, basically editing the memories of the living as the story is...more
Brita
"Lydia's favorite part of any parade was the marching band. Marches on the Victrola had no flash or strut: the drums did not electrify, the trumpets did not exalt, and the tubas did not pull the strings of her legs in time to the music's promise of good news just out of reach. She loved the erect carriage of the marchers in their impeccable uniforms and the proud way they held their instruments, as though each trumpet and flute and drum were incontrovertible evidence of all that had gone right w...more
Amy
Jan 10, 2008 Amy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys discussing what they've read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erica
Jan 07, 2009 Erica rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone up for a great audio book
I loved this as an audiobook. Myla Goldberg, the author, is the reader and she does a fabulous job. The story is not only intriguing and interesting but the different parts of the book revolving around QD Soda and Lydia and how they are portrayed in the audio book really makes the whole audio book so enjoyable. I can imagine that this would be distracting as a reader of the book. The different sections weren't just read they have sounds to alert you what part of the book you're being read. It's...more
Christina
This book caught my interest when I found it on a thrift store shelf. It is a multi-layered tale: the main storyline is about Lydia, a young lady living in south Boston in the early 1900's, her marriage, her husband's creation of a remedy for sickness, and then the Spanish Flu epidemic that sweeps through the country. Another layer is the social happenings of the time: advertisements of QD soda, conversations betweeen men and their concerns over the flu (I thought I knew who they were, but the a...more
Smileywendy
This novel, set in Boston during WWI and the influenza epidemic, was very intriguing and lured me away from the other book I was reading! It is written in 3rd person from the perspective of the main character's memory. In the side margins are other people's memories of the same events, illustrating that history is always biased by whoever records it. The narrative is also interspersed with historical newspaper articles and advertisements.

Reading this story has certainly increased my gratitude fo...more
Diane
With the re-emergence of the H1N1 or swine flu virus, Wickett's Remedy is a timely read. Two stories, one modern and one historical with the common thread of the elixer called Wickett's Remedy. Its historical setting: Boston and an offshore military prison colony, where prisoners to be exposed to the flu. Get it and live - and they're free. Lydia Wickett's husband dies of the flu just as Wickett's Remedy takes off. Her restlessness leads her to nursing at the military prison. as it's set near th...more
Dannaca
Jun 07, 2013 Dannaca rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Dannaca by: Jen
Shelves: reviewed-books
This book wasn't exactly what I thought it was going to be. It begins in a very light, conversational way and leads you to believe that it might be a love story. It isn't. Not exactly.

First off, I love, love, love that this book has commentary in the margins. I wish all books had that! It's such a good way to give a story depth and personality. This story also has interesting newspaper snippets and other things that break up the story of main character Lydia Wickett and I loved having those smal...more
Dani Peloquin
I am all for books with funky narrators and interesting narrative styles. Though I’m still unsure about postmodernism, I love novels that push the limits on our expectations for genre. When I picked up “Wickett’s Remedy”, I thought that I was just in for an interesting story on the Spanish influenza. Oh boy, how wrong I was! What I wound up with was a great novel about South Boston during WWI, but written in a style that includes voices from those who had already past. Additionally, the author u...more
Patti
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
jess
I really loved Bee Season, so I was very pleased to listen to Wickett's Remedy on audio book as well. Maybe it's unfair to compare these two different stories solely because they share a maker, but Myla's name is what made me read this.

Initially the books seem like they could not be more dissimilar, although the style of their self-assured narrators indicate that they are related. Bee Season exists at the baffling intersection of Spelling Bees, Jewish mysticism, Hare Krishna recruitment, and me...more
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Myla Goldberg is the bestselling author of Bee Season and Wickett's Remedy, as well as a children's book, Catching the Moon. The paperback edition of her newest novel, The False Friend, will be coming out this fall. She also plays accordion and banjo and sings as part of the Brooklyn art-punk band, The Walking Hellos.
More about Myla Goldberg...
Bee Season The False Friend Time's Magpie: A Walk in Prague Catching The Moon The Commemerative

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