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Named a most anticipated book of 2020 by Time, Vanity Fair, Esquire,
Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, BookRiot, Domino, and LitHub Brilliant,
suspenseful...A masterpiece.--Elizabeth Gilbert, author of City of Girls
A brainy page-turner that's gorgeous and frightening in equal measure.--
Leni Zumas, author of Red Clocks A searing novel which probes the world's
approach to women's bodies and women's minds, and the time-honored
tradition of doubting both. At their newly founded school, Samuel Hood and
his daughter Caroline promise a groundbreaking education for young women.
But Caroline has grave misgivings. After all, her own unconventional
education has left her unmarriageable and isolated, unsuited to the narrow
roles afforded women in 19th century New England. When a mysterious flock
of red birds descends on the town, Caroline alone seems to find them
unsettling. But it's not long before the assembled students begin to
manifest bizarre symptoms: Rashes, seizures, headaches, verbal tics, night
wanderings. One by one, they sicken. Fearing ruin for the school, Samuel
overrules Caroline's pleas to inform the girls' parents and turns instead
to a noted physician, a man whose sinister ministrations--based on a
shocking historic treatment--horrify Caroline. As the men around her
continue to dictate, disastrously, all terms of the girls' experience,
Caroline's body too begins to betray her. To save herself and her young
charges, she will have to defy every rule that has governed her life, her
mind, her body, and her world. Clare Beams's extraordinary debut story
collection We Show What We Have Learned earned comparisons to Shirley
Jackson, Karen Russell and Aimee Bender, and established Beams as a writer
who creates magical-realist pieces that often calculate the high cost of
being a woman (The Rumpus). Precisely observed, hauntingly atmospheric, as
fiercely defiant as it is triumphant, The Illness Lesson is a spellbinding
piece of storytelling.

Clare Beams—The Illness Lesson

  • 9780385544665
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