Committed to following in her father’s footsteps through the world of medicine, Gabriella Mondini has worked for years to become a legitimate doctors, despite the sexism of 1590 Venice. But when her father — her patron in the male-dominated society — goes missing, Gabriella’s already-precarious position becomes even more so.
Using clues in the letters she receives from her father, Gabriella embarks on a mission that takes her across Europe in search of the man she has always idolized. Along the way she meets friends and foes, treats the sick, and catalogs illnesses and treatments; but the one illness she may not be able to sure is that which is rumored to have her beloved father in its grasp.
It’s my own fault, really. I read “16th century” and “female doctor” and got all excited because I thought it was another Mistress of the Art of Death type series. Who doesn’t love a headstrong woman busting through the glass ceiling?
I liked Gabriella, and empathized with her need to find her father and try to cure his rumored madness. But O’Melveny’s novel was based heavily on inner monologue; while beautifully written, it just wasn’t that compelling.
From Gabriella’s unending thoughts to deaths that were clumsily handled to descriptions of weird-ass 16th century illnesses and their equally bizarre treatments, The Book of Madness and Cures was definitely not my cup of tea. O’Melveny is obviously a talented writer, but I wish she had written a more action-oriented novel (or at least one that felt more action-oriented).