The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After reading this and In the Shadow of Blackbirds, count me as a Cat Winters fan!
Winters has an incredible ability to blend historical worlds and supernatural into a beautifully crafted story. In this novel we get the story of Olivia, a young suffragette in early 1900s Oregon, who lives with the burden of a controlling misogynist father and a runaway liberal mother. When her opinions grow too outspoken, Olivia's father hires a travelling hypnotist to hypnotize the rebellion out of her.
Henri Reverie the hypnotist is that perfect balance of skepticism and genuine magic for readers. In an otherwise realistically set world, Henry really does have powers that he shares (or curses) with Olivia. But Winters did a good job blending these two worlds - Henry's abilities move Olivia's story forward, but in a way that only adds to her normal life and struggles with the people around her. You'd be surprised how well the plot of a hypnotist lends itself to a story of civil rights.
Another incredible thing about the book was how no character was too black and white in their morality, with the exception of the anti-suffrage men who were the "villains." Henry, though a forward thinking and considerate man, has his own ambitions. Olivia's father has a wonderfully sad character revelation. Olivia's mother, the outspoken feminist, has clearly done awful things to her family. And even Olivia herself faces regrets in many of her actions.
Though the story was technically a romance, it didn't overburden the plot. Olivia and Henry had a touching relationship that was really more about each finding their own freedom than it was about finding each other. ["I kissed you because I thought it would be fun. I thought we could both use a kiss. It had nothing to do with hypnosis or female equality pr anything else but the simple fact that we were having a grand time." (hide spoiler)]
"I suppose I've committed my worst transgression yet. I made a group of women dependent on a man." -Olivia Mead
"There is some of the explainable in me, ma cherie, but there is also a great deal of enchantment in you. Keep telling the world what you see. Help others see it, too." -Henry Rhodes
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