Monday 19 August 2013

The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay

"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."
In 1871, I was serving as a visiting physician for the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children.  While seeing to the health and well-being of the residents of the Lower East Side, I met a young girl, twelve years of age, named Moth.
In the pages that follow, you will find her story, told in her own words, along with occasional notes from my hand.  In the tradition of my profession, I intended to limit my remarks to scientific observations only, but in the places where I felt compelled to do so, I've added a page or two from my past.  These additions are offered in kindness and with the best of intentions.

I read Ami McKay's first novel The Birth House back in 2007 and absolutely adored it. I was delighted to get hold of a copy of The Virgin Cure which was published here in the UK by Orion in September last year.

We meet Moth, a young girl who lives with her mother in the tenements of New York, it's the  1870s and life is tough for the inhabitants of Chrystie Street.   Moth's father abandoned them, and her mother makes a small living from telling fortunes.  Moth knows that one day she will be sold.  That day comes sooner than she thinks and Moth soon finds herself fighting to survive.   She finds herself in a situation that is far worse than she could ever imagine.

This is a wonderfully well-researched story of terrible injustices, and even though it is set over 150 years ago, there are issues within these pages that are still so relevant today.   Ami McKay writes with ease, producing some fabulous characters who almost burst from the page.  Her sense of pace and timing is superb.  I especially enjoyed the added extras - those snippets of notes and clippings add a very realistic touch.

A story filled with strong female characters, some who have lost all hope, others who are determined to fight against the odds for what they believe in.

The Virgin Cure is a delight to read, it's entertaining and heart-warming.

Ami McKay's debut novel, The Birth House, was a number one 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.  Previously a music teacher, Ami's literary career started with a year of writing thank-you notes to people she didn't know.  Now every day is a writing day. Born and raised in Indiana, Ami lives in Nova Scotia.
To find out more visit her website at  Ami also has a Facebook page and is on Twitter


  1. This sounds like my kind of read.

  2. Aw Anne this sounds good, I have never read this author before