In1850s Frankfurt, a Jewish girl named Hannah Meyer entersthe town asylum, rumoured to be suffering from nymphomania.She is treated byDr Heinrich Hoffmann, physician and famed author of the book of children's cautionary tales, Struwwelpeter,whouses everymethodfrom ice packs to electrodesin an effort to cure her. Nothing works, until he resorts to talking -- telling her anecdotes from his youth, revealingthe"case historiesof Hannah's fellow patients, confessing to his troubled home life. Only then does Hannah begin to yield herhauntingtale of love, prejudice and transgression.
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Clare Dudman was born in North Wales and educated at the University of Durham and King's College London. In 1995 her children's novel won the Kathleen Fidler Award, and in 2001 she received a prestigious Arts Council Award for Wegener's Jigsaw.From Booklist:
After the success of her stunning One Day the Ice Will Reveal All Its Dead (2004), Dudman turns her interest in biographical fiction to progressive nineteenth-century psychiatrist Dr. Heinrich Hoffmann, longtime superintendent of a Frankfurt insane asylum who is best remembered today as the author of Struwwelpeter, a set of cautionary tales for children published 160 years ago. In 1852, as he treats Hannah Meyer, a young Jewish woman diagnosed with nymphomania, Dr. Hoffmann uses methods from electrodes to leeches. When these methods fail, he persists (particularly because Hannah has captured his interest) by talking, revealing his own personal and professional problems and gradually uncovering Hannah's secrets and the story of the man she loves, as revealed in her mesmerizing italicized interior monologue. While Hoffmann and Hannah are primary, all of the patients and staff at the asylum are exceptionally well drawn, and through them Dudman explores the nature of madness, prejudice, and love; and at the end of some chapters, she adds pertinent tales from Struwwelpeter. A beautifully written, emotionally powerful biographical novel. Michele Leber
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