October 14, 2014
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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 an incredibly unique and enjoyable tale. Blending the coming-of-age tale of seventeen-year-old Olivia Mead, historical fiction set in 1900 and a bit of fantasy could not have worked better than it does here.
Olivia is a teenager living in Portland, Oregon with her overbearing father. The push for women's suffrage is really gaiing momentum and Olivia finds the idea appealing. Her father does not, to say the least.
Young Henri Reverie, a hypnotist, is in town for a run of shows, one attended by Olivia, with friends, on her Halloween birthday. What should have been a one time encounter becomes something more when Olivia's father employs Henri to hypnotize the 'rebellion' out of Olivia.
Instead, Olivia is left seeing the people and the world as they really are - haunting and confusing visions - and unable to put her outrage into words.
What was supposed to be the end of Olivia's defiance proves to only be the beginning when she becomes even more determined, despite the added difficulties, to speak her mind.
With the cries both for and against a woman's right to vote as the backdrop, Olivia tries to be herself. Not the submissive, quiet future housewife her father hopes her to be, but the educated, independent young woman she wishes to be. Reverie, the hypnotist, plays an increasingly interesting role in the story and in Olivia's life.
For what her father has hired him to do, Olivia knows she should despise the young mesmerist, but the more she encounters him and the more she learns of his life,t he harder that is to do. Olivia's conflicted feelings about Mr Reverie not only make sense they add quite a bit to the story. I really liked that while she does know that she doesn't want to be what most of the time think she should be, she also is not already completely opposed to it all, either. She does not have it all figured out. She has to find where she fits and what it is she really wants for her life.
Olivia's discoveries - about her self and life for women, in general - are propelled wonderfully by both her new acquaintances and the effects of her hypnotism.
While The Cure for Dreaming does not delve as heavily into life for most women in 1900, how the suffragists (and their opposition) are part of Olivia's story and how she is a part of theirs, tells a very well imagined and well constructed story. All of the different elements come together so well and make for a great novel.
The quotes from literature or persons of the period along with photographs from the time add a little bit extra to the story and pull readers more fully into the time.
(After Kate Chopin's The Awakening was quoted and mentioned in The Cure for Dreaming and in Figment's email about underrated books, I really hope more people will read it. It is one of my favorites.)
Other books you may also enjoy: Silent Echoes by Carla Jablonski and The Awakening by Kate Chopin
received for review thanks to publisher, through NetGalley