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The Virgin Cure

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  7,858 ratings  ·  969 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
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published October 25th 2011 by Knopf Canada
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Community Reviews

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Petra X smokin' hot
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
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
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
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
Alison DeLory
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 3 of 5 stars
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
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
Debbie Mcnulty
“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
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
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
Joanne Guidoccio
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Easy to read, but light as air, with rather flat characters (other than the protagonist, to a point) and a wispy plot. Also a bit of a strange cross between social expose and something a little more voyeuristic. The ending was particularly unconvincing. Not like I didn't turn the pages, but...
Judi/Judith Riddle
On any given day, acts of kindness occur across the city. Someone gives up their bed so someone else can rest their tired, aching bones. Someone hands a bit of change to a stranger. There’s hot soup and good fortune, soft words and bread.

Then there are the cruel things that happen, the worst you can imagine. Heaven help you if even one of them finds you. The memory of it will never let you alone.

These words from this novel touched me in an odd way. After I pondered over the message for a time I

A favorite read so far, I am lost for words on how to describe how I feel for the story. It was beautiful, but also dark at moments, and it was raw.. I took every chance to read as much as I could, I highly recommend this book
Kim Erskine
I did like this book, and am giving it a solid 3, (3.5 is I could). It was a very interesting subject and the author had wonderful descriptions of life in NYC in the 1870's. I could hardly wait to get back to the book. I am a sucker for historical fiction and Improve learning about this period from the view of a 12 year old girl. From being sold by her mother to an abusive vindictive woman, to being groomed to be a prostitute, it was a very detailed and well researched narrative. But many of the ...more
4.5 out of 5. 'She never held my hand in hers or let me kiss her cheeks. If I asked to sit on her lap, she'd pout and push me away and say, "When you were a baby, I held you until I thought my arms would fall off. Oh, Child, that should be enough." I didn't mind. I loved her...It was my father who gave me my name...Mama said she'd rather call me Ada..After he left us, Mama tried calling me Ada anyway, but it was too late. I only ever answered to Moth'. This is a story set in New York in the late ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: adding an edition 3 25 Nov 29, 2012 02:08PM  
  • Natural Order
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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...
The Birth House Jerome: The Historical Spectacle The Witches of New York Der verbotene Garten: Roman (German Edition)

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“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.” 10 likes
“Standing in front of the girl's house, Mama yelled up at the windows, "Katie Adams, you whore, give me my husband back!" When Miss Adams' neighbours complained about all the noise Mama was making, my father came down to quiet her. He kissed her until she cried, but didn't come home.” 2 likes
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