"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 in the tenements of lower Manhattan in the year 1871. As a young child, Moth's father smiled, tipped his hat and walked away from her forever. The summer she turned twelve, her mother sold her as a servant to a wealthy woman, with no intention of ever seeing her again.
These betrayals lead Moth to the wild, murky world of the Bowery, filled with house-thieves, pickpockets, beggars, sideshow freaks and prostitutes, where eventually she meets Miss Everett, the owner of a brothel simply known as "The Infant School." Miss Everett caters to gentlemen who pay dearly for companions who are "willing and clean," and the most desirable of them all are young virgins like Moth.
Through the friendship of Dr. Sadie, a female physician, Moth learns to question and observe the world around her, where her new friends are falling prey to the myth of the "virgin cure"--that deflowering a "fresh maid" can heal the incurable and tainted. She knows the law will not protect her, that polite society ignores her, and still she dreams of answering to no one but herself. There's a high price for such independence, though, and no one knows that better than a girl from Chrystie Street.
This book started off okay. It was an interesting story to see how Moth was living in poverty with her mother, who was a Gypsy and made selfish decisions. Her mother sold her to wealthy woman as maid. After being constantly beaten and abused by the woman, Moth escapes and heads home, only to discover that her mother has disappeared. With no choices, Moth enters the world of becoming a whore. All this at the age of 13.
I wasn't crazy about the writing style ... I found it draggy and drawn out. With about 100 pages to go, I found that I started skipping pages to get to the end to see how things were going to go for Moth.
In the sidebars on some pages were tidbits of information of how things were back in those days.
So though I found the story interesting, the writing style makes me not recommend it. But that's just my taste ... maybe you'll like it better than I did.
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