“The Metropolitan Theater simmered with the heat of more than a thousand bodies packed together in red velvet chairs. My nose itched from the lingering scent of cigarette smoke wafting off the gentlemen’s coats – a burning odour that added to the sensation that we were all seated inside a beautiful oven, waiting to be broiled. Even the cloud of warring perfumes hanging over the audience smelled overcooked, like toast gone crisp and black”
Halloween night was Oliva’s seventeenth birthday. It was also the day her eyes were opened and she started to see things more clearly than ever before. That day she was victim of abuse as she cheered along with the suffragists fighting for votes for women. That evening she was the volunteer at a hypnotists show, where he stood on her body as she lay suspended across the backs of two chairs. Then, that night, her father started a tirade against her dreams. As he starts to do everything he can to get Henri Reverie to hypnotise the rebellion out of her, she becomes more and more herself; even if she cannot share her thoughts aloud.
This is an incredibly brilliant story which really got my feelings riled up, despite hating 50% of the books’ events I adored its narrative and the fight which is evident in the main character throughout, and I honestly couldn’t put it down.
Those of you who follow me on twitter or know me off screen will be aware that I am a feminist. I often rant about the inequality in the world even now and yes, I am fully aware that women have gained so, so much – especially in the western world – in the past 100 years, I just believe we’ve still got a while to go before we can say everyone is equal. With this knowledge you may understand why this book meant so much to me. The entire thing is about women and their place in Oregon in 1900, its about the suffragist movement and just how much went against women who tried to argue for their voice. Its about what was happening at the time, even if its about a fictional girl and her fight against her father – that girl represents so many real girls who were around at that time and thats exactly why it was a five star book for me.
I hated reading this book, I’m not going to lie. I hated it because it reminded me just how undervalued women were at that time, and just how far men went to silence them. It told of the terrifying fact that men had every power over women, from their finances to their education and even who they were allowed to marry. It was an awful time and I am so, so happy I didn’t live in those times, however I am so annoyed I didn’t at the same time because I would have been one of those strong women who would not have been silenced. Around 50% of the characters in this book, in my eyes, needed a good slap. The things they did and the things they said were enough to make my blood boil, but thats the effect of fantastic writing.
I honestly felt myself following Olivia around the streets of Oregon when I was reading The Cure For Dreaming, the writing was that brilliant and that realistic that I still cannot believe that Cat Winters wasn’t around at the time! I found it captivating and because of that it was a very quick read. Throughout the book there were inclusions of archival photos from the actual time and quotes from books that were published in the run up to the time and I think this added to the story really well too. There books are often seen as a social commentary on the time and I think they backed up the points that Winters was making fantastically well. The images also reminded me as a reader just how different things were back then.
As I said above half of the characters in this book needed a slap, or worse, in my eyes. I absolutely hated Olivia’s father. Saying that I loved Olivia and her growth throughout the story. At the beginning we are met with a meal girl who believes in the equality of women but who also believes in the goodness of her father and feels for him when all others call him mad or worse. She loves him and she wants, like most people do, to believe he is a good man. This is obviously not the case and soon we are seeing his true colours as Olivia finally sees them. In addition to Olivia’s father you are met with a number of men who obviously stand against the women’s movement and boys who have been conditioned to think the same. I think that the most dangerous characters were John and Percy for they are the modern men who should be changing the world, but were as small minded as their fathers. Henri and some of the female characters were fantastic, but as Mrs Underhill proved not all female characters were brilliant either.
I really, really loved this book. It was horrific in places and it made my blood boil but even at those points I still loved it for what it shows, how the fight for equality was started and how we need to always remember to stand up for ourselves.
The Cure For Dreaming was published on October 1st by Amulet, an Abrahams and Chronicle imprint. My copy was sent to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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