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Wickett's Remedy

3.26  ·  Rating Details ·  1,717 Ratings  ·  290 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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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
Pat Cal
May 07, 2007 Pat Cal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Sep 06, 2011 Tobinsfavorite rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 24, 2009 H rated it it was ok
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.
Nov 19, 2007 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jul 29, 2013 Sheila rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 Woodbury
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
Pam Patton
I nearly set this book aside because I found one of the main characters profoundly irritating but I stuck with it, and I'm so glad I did. Though I found the marginalia a bit precious at times, I appreciated the skill in which Goldberg wove in multiple points of view. And I enjoyed the way the lovely story was told, in many ways, by inference. The chapters skip through time, and include letters written in the characters' futures. So between the story itself, the marginal comments, and the letters ...more
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.
Dec 07, 2009 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
myla adds life! ; things go better with myla ; myla's the real thing ; have a myla and smile ; the myla side of life ; etc
nice historical and social drama set during span. flu times, plus quack juice gets stolen and turns into wildly successful soft drink.
Jan 25, 2017 Roberta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was very disappointed - the change of points of view was fine but the writing was very uneven, and not particularly interesting as history or entertainment or in empathizing for the heroine. I made myself finish it.
Margaret Collins
I really love Myla Goldberg's writing. She's a top notch story teller.
Jan 10, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Dani Peloquin
Aug 22, 2011 Dani Peloquin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Pris robichaud
Jan 04, 2009 Pris robichaud rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
May 24, 2013 Patti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 05, 2011 jess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook-d, fiction, 2011
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
Nov 12, 2010 Dee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 31, 2010 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: period-fiction
I had a really hard time deciding how to rate this book. I picked it up because I adore the author's first book, Bee Season, finding it one of the most interesting and complex books written in my lifetime. And Wickett's Remedy was really interesting and complex, too...but I never could reconcile exactly how the story of the actual placebo "remedy" and QD Soda fit into the rest of the book.

Lydia Wickett is the main character, a poor shopgirl from South Boston who falls in love with and marries a
Jul 04, 2009 Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-reviewed
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
Feb 09, 2011 Lindsay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 26, 2011 Meganne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I found this book to be charming, much like one of the reviewers before me. From the very beginning “charming” is the word that I began using to describe it. Having never read Myla Goldberg’s work, I didn’t have any expectations when I picked up this book off of the bargain shelf for $5.

The historical nerd in me greatly appreciated the amount of research that obviously went into this story. From the primary-sourced newspaper articles to simply the little details, I was pleased to find an author
May 12, 2011 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jan 12, 2012 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Wickett's Remedy is a story of the 1918 influenza epidemic. This epidemic is generally thought to have started in the United States and then was shipped overseas with soldiers on their way to fight battles of WWI.

Lydia, an Irish-American shopgirl marries Henry Wickett, a shy medical student and son of the Boston Brahmin family. Soon after the marriage, Henry quits medical school and goes to work for his father. Henry wants to develop a mail order medicine called Wickett's Remedy. He wants Lydia
"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
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
Feb 12, 2009 Jeff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wickett’s Remedy brings us back to Boston in the early twentieth century and into the life of Lydia Wickett, an Irish-American Southie whose world is turned upside-down by the 1918 flu epidemic. Lydia dreams of greatness after she marries an affluent medical student, but her life takes a dramatic turn after her new husband dies and she finds herself working in an experimental hospital to fight the formidable influenza epidemic.

Like Atwood and Kingsolver, Goldberg does not tell Lydia’s story so m
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Myla Goldberg is the bestselling author of Bee Season, Wickett's Remedy, and The False Friendas well as a children's book, Catching the Moon.
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