The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay

I really liked this one – the virgin cure is a turn of the century belief that if a “gentleman” afflicted by syphillis bedded (sp?) a young virgin his disease would be cured. The stories told from the point of view of a 13 year-old girl who has been abandoned to the streets of London and feels she has no choice but to attach herself to a “madam” who grooms young girls for a life of high class prostitution – the beginning of which is to sell their virginity at a high price. Ami’s inspiration for this novel comes from her great-great-grandmother who was a physician who devoted her practice to caring for these poor young girls. The characters are well drawn and the tensions surrounding the difficult lives of these girls are respectfully explored.