The Illness Lesson by Clare Beams
A school for young women to encourage free thinking is begun by Caroline's father, a philosopher, in the late 1800s. He has her teaching English and she is the only female teacher. Soon the girls begin to show a disturbing illness that borders on hysteria and Caroline also begins to show symptoms she works hard to conceal from the others. A doctor is brought in to take care of the girls but his methods are anything but medical. This story puts together some interesting paradoxes including encouraging modern thinking and education for young women but their teaching is still male dominant and they are all starting to understand their bodies and freedom but then they are betrayed by this strange disease which again gives the male doctor and Caroline's father complete power over them. Caroline's mother died when she was very young making her father the only parent and without a good female role model. There would be much to discuss for book clubs.
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