A stunning, powerfully evocative new novel based on a true story – in 1726 in the small town of Godalming, England, a young woman confounds the medical community by giving birth to dead rabbits.
Surgeon John Howard is a rational man. His apprentice Zachary knows John is reluctant to believe anything that purports to exist outside the realm of logic. But even John cannot explain how or why Mary Toft, the wife of a local farmer, manages to give birth to a dead rabbit. When this singular event becomes a regular occurrence, John realizes that nothing in his experience as a village physician has prepared him to deal with a situation as disturbing as this. He writes to several preeminent surgeons in London, three of whom quickly arrive in the small town of Godalming ready to observe and opine. When Mary’s plight reaches the attention of King George, Mary and her doctors are summoned to London, where Zachary experiences for the first time a world apart from his small-town existence, and is exposed to some of the darkest corners of the human soul. All the while, Mary lies in bed, waiting for another birth, as doubts begin to blossom among the surgeons and a growing group of onlookers grow impatient for another miracle . . .
My reading experience:
Firstly I would like to thank the publisher, author and Netgalley for my free ARC.
Drawn into a world where spectacle is entertainment and superstition, where even childbirth is cloaked in folklore, readers are quickly amongst 18th century rural lifestyles with its customs, beliefs and ritual. Mary Toft, the wife of a local farmer, gives birth to a dead rabbit and then this event becomes a regular occurrence. This story takes a hugely open mind, a reader already exposed to the notions of lore and other worldly ness. You will not regret it.