Thursday, April 2, 2020

Mary Toft; or, the Rabbit Queen by Dexter Palmer

Mary Toft; or, the Rabbit Queen
by Dexter Palmer

Published: 2019
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Genre: Historical
Hardback: 319
Rating: 5
Goodreads | Website

First sentence(s):
The convoy of decrepit coaches and wagons that constituted Nicholas Fox's exhibition of medical curiosities rolled into the village of Godalming on a Friday in early September 1726, soon after sunrise.

"...based on a true story—in 1726 in the small town of Godalming, England, a young woman confounds the medical community by giving birth to dead rabbits."

Surgeon John Howard is a rational man. His apprentice Zachary knows John is reluctant to believe anything that purports to exist outside the realm of logic. But even John cannot explain how or why Mary Toft, the wife of a local farmer, manages to give birth to a dead rabbit. When this singular event becomes a regular occurrence, John realizes that nothing in his experience as a village physician has prepared him to deal with a situation as disturbing as this. He writes to several preeminent surgeons in London, three of whom quickly arrive in the small town of Godalming ready to observe and opine. When Mary's plight reaches the attention of King George, Mary and her doctors are summoned to London, where Zachary experiences for the first time a world apart from his small-town existence, and is exposed to some of the darkest corners of the human soul. All the while, Mary lies in bed, waiting for another birth, as doubts begin to blossom among the surgeons and a growing group of onlookers grow impatient for another miracle...

My two-bits:

Just the right kind of whimsical craziness. And based on a true story.

Loved how this was written - really felt the time period, place and people.


* part of the Tournament of Books 2020 (here)

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