Author: Cat Winters
Released: October 1st 2014
Length: 368 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.The Cure for Dreaming is Cat Winters’ breathlessly anticipated sophomore novel. After last year’s brilliant debut, expectations from this book were sky high, but we needn’t have feared. Winters was more than up to the task. Although not as emotionally intense and tragic as In the Shadow of Blackbirds, The Cure for Dreaming has a different kind of strength; the kind that inspires us to fight for our place in the world, to give everything and do everything to achieve what we think is right.
One would think that today, 114 years after this story takes place, its educational value would be limited to history alone, but one would be truly, utterly wrong. It is clear (and wonderfully articulated by young Emma Watson in her recent UN speech for gender equality) that women are still far from being equals in our male oriented societies. The right to vote and the suffragist movement were just a first step in achieving something that has yet to be fully accomplished, and that makes Cat Winters’ new novel much more than just a brilliant piece of fiction. The relevance of this book is, in fact, immeasurable.
Olivia Mead is an open-minded, highly intelligent girl in a time when girls are expected to be pretty and silent, just decoration in a male-dominated world. After finding out that she participated in a suffragist rally, her father hires a young hypnotist to cure Olivia of her unfeminine thoughts. Obviously, a deep-seated belief can’t just disappear, but if thinking and talking about it can be made unpleasant enough, it was his hope that Olivia (and other women after her) could be trained through simple classical conditioning to remain silent and demure, like a proper woman should.
There were times when this book made me so angry it made my stomach churn, and then there were times when I was ready to burst with pride, because as hard as Olivia’s father, her would-be suitor and other men around her tried to tame her, she simply refused to stay silent. With a little help from the young hypnotist himself, she handled everything that was thrown at her, and even managed to teach them all a lesson.
Once again, Winters added authentic photographs to strengthen the effect of her story. It was a brilliant move on her part and I hope she’ll keep doing it in her future works as well. After this, there is no more doubt: Cat Winters is an unstoppable literary force. She does her research, she combines fact with simply marvelous fiction, she touches our hearts and somehow teaches us all a valuable lesson in the process. What more could we possibly want?
I say Printz. What say you?
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.