Title: The Cure For Dreaming
Writer: Cat Winters
Publishing House: Harry N. Abrams
Date of Publication: October 14th 2014
Rating: 5 stars
”Olivia Gertrude Mead, my hope for you since the day your mother left was that you would grow up to be a rational, respectable, dignified young woman who understands her place in the world.”
Olivia has problems. She is a young woman, living in Oregon in 1900, a member of the middle-upper class society and she needs to be ”respectable”. She is not allowed to disagree with men. She is not allowed to have opinions. She is not allowed to react when young men view her as ripe for the taking. She is not allowed to eat whatever she chooses. She is not allowed to wear the scarf she likes. She is not allowed to become an active citizen. She is not allowed to vote. She is not allowed to vocally exist.
It’s just too much…
And why? Because she is a woman. Her society cannot abide with women working or choosing their husbands or voting. The world would be destroyed! So she must obey a father who hires a hypnotist to extract these ugly, unladylike thoughts from the mind of his daughter. Little does he know…
”Miss Mead”, asked Henri Reverie. ”Would you like me to take you away from the world for a while?”
In a delicious book that -hopefully- will make you boil with anger over the atrocious way in which women were viewed a mere century ago, Winters paints the life of a young woman in bleak colours within the very vivid setting of Oregon. Using a number of exciting themes like the Women’s Suffrage Movement, the obsession with hypnosis and all things paranormal that swept the world during the late 19th, early 20th century, the advancing discoveries in the field of medicine, the change in women’s fashion to accommodate a more active role in society and the constant threat of the asylum, Winters creates a marvellous story, centred around a very sympathetic, extremely brave young heroine and a young man who dreamed of a different society.
Imagine living in a society where you are not heard. Literally. You aren’t supposed to. Your order in a restaurant is decided for you and the one phrase you are told day after day is ”it’s all for your own good”. Well, 8 times out of 10 this means the exact opposite. Olivia finds solace in books. In Gothic Literature, to be more specific. In Dracula and Sleepy Hollow, innovative stories with controversial (at the time) female characters who took life in their own hands. There are also references to ground-breaking works like The Awakening by Kate Chopin, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and The Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft. Because Olivia has to put up with people who utter sentences such as this:
”More than ever it seems we need a remedy for the growing army of loud, obnoxious women who insist they are the same as men.”
This came out of the mouth of a woman and all is most definitely NOT well…
I am not sure whether hypnosis actually works in the way depicted in the novel, and at times, it seemed a little too convenient, but you know what? It doesn’t matter. The setting jumps right out of the pages, the plot is terrific, the dialogue is lively and flowing, and the heroine is perfectly developed. This is an extremely well-written story that makes you appreciate the fragile freedom we’ve acquired thanks to the unrelenting efforts of the women who fought against the world and won.
”My mind isn’t like a rotten tooth. You can’t just take it away.”