The Woman With the Cure is a fictionalized biography of Dorothy Horstmann who made great sacrifices to develop a vaccine for polio.
The Woman With the Cure by Lynn Cullen
Genre/Categories/Setting: Historical Fiction, Biographical, Scientists, Polio, 1940s/1950s United States
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My Summary of The Woman With the Cure:
Thanks #NetGalley @BerkleyPub #BerkelyWritesStrongWomen #BerkleyBuddyReads for a complimentary e ARC of #TheWomanWithTheCure upon my request. All opinions are my own.
In the 1940s and 1950s, America (and the world) is battling Polio, and the best scientists are in a race to find a vaccine. While her male colleagues are in a race to be first, Dorothy Horstmann is deeply concerned for the children who are suffering. She has her own suspicions and ideas of where the virus lurks, but the men overlook her. The Woman With the Cure highlights the scientist who sacrificed and worked relentlessly for the cure but didn’t receive recognition.
Through the efforts of historical fiction authors, women who have been unrecognized for their contributions are receiving attention. I love this about histfic and I admire the authors who are committed to purposeful and informative stories like this one based on real women. (I have a post highlighting similar books coming in March)
Relatable to Present Day
The process of developing a polio vaccine is interesting content in light of our recent success in the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 (please, no political comments!). My mother tells stories of the fear of contracting polio for years when she was young. I’m old enough to remember going down to the local school to get my sugar cubes! It’s always interesting to read about times that you and/or your parents have experienced. At the same time, it’s also disconcerting that my childhood is now considered historical fiction! LOL
At a time when women had difficulty gaining acceptance to medical school, Dorothy Horstmann would not be deterred. The story highlights her journey to become a doctor and the first female professor at Yale School of Medicine as well as her important contributions in vaccine development. Yet she was basically invisible. It’s interesting that such a tall, brilliant woman would be invisible! Her name should have been listed on articles along with the men (or even ahead of the men). Very few men listened to her unique idea that the polio virus lurked in the blood.
A Lot of Science
Yes, there’s a great deal of science in this story. Some might find it dry for that reason and others might find it fascinating and informative. I admit skimming over some of the technical parts; yet, I found her story inspiring and intriguing.
Strictly a personal opinion here….I wish authors could restrain themselves from imposing modern day feminist thought on the past. In this story, Cullen goes out of her way to place Horstmann in Times Square when the iconic picture is taken of a soldier kissing a stranger on V-J Day. Of course, Horstmann interprets this as the aggressive action of a man kissing a woman without consent. *Insert eye-roll here*
Recommending The Woman With the Cure
This is a story I appreciate for its historical content, and I recommend it for readers interested in science, medicine, and public health. Fans of stories about strong women breaking barriers will also enjoy this. Books clubs will find a great deal to discuss.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Meet the Author of The Woman With the Cure, Lynn Cullen
National bestselling author Lynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her novel, MRS. POE was named a Book of the Week by People Magazine, a Target Book Club Pick, an NPR 2013 Great Read, an Indie Next List selection. the book of the month at Costco, an Oprah Book of the Week, and Best of 2013 by Atlanta Magazine. TWAIN’S END was a People Magazine Book of the Week, a Townsend Prize finalist, an Indie Next selection, and named a Book All Georgians Should Read by the Georgia Center for the Book. Her novels have been translated into seventeen languages and she has appeared on PBS American Masters. She lives in Atlanta with her large family when not on the road researching her next book.
Do you think this book about a woman scientist sounds interesting?
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