For girls growing up in the Western World these days, it’s easy to take things such as the right to vote, the right to protest, the right to an education, even the right to dress freely, for granted.
But it was only ninety-five years ago that the 19th amendment to the US Constitution was passed, finally giving all American women the same voting privileges as men. This was twenty years after the 1900 setting of The Cure for Dreaming, which, despite its fantastical elements, expertly reflects the volatility of the time and the challenges facing disenfranchised women.
Ms. Winters has done a wonderful job with this novel. Olivia is the kind of character you just want to read about and empathise with, and the way Ms. Winters presents her journey from shy and awkward closet suffragist to brave and demanding free thinking woman is enthralling.
I found the premise of the book intriguing and enjoyed the light fantasy elements mixed in with the more intense historical backdrop. The idea of someone being hypnotized to give up their dreams and change their personality is so disconcerting to our modern-day minds, but the reality is that the attitude of Olivia’s father was a common one of the time and I’m sure if it had been a viable option, hypnotism would have been used just as frequently as disowning daughters, locking women away, banning them from certain places and general intimidation tactics.
For me, the romance element fell a little flat – I thought the friendship between Henry and Olivia was quite sweet but I didn’t get much of a romantic vibe. Of course, this could be due to the historical setting; it’s hard to create smoldering romance in such a prudish time!
Ultimately, I was satisfied with the ending; I don’t read many standalone books, given the nature of fantasy these days, but I have to admit it was a nice feeling to finish the book and not be left hanging for once!
I own this book
Reviewed by Ash Bye