Book Review: The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies

by Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin

You know you’ve morphed into a literoholic when you start reading books about books – and having just finished The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin, I must also confess to being something of a literary valetudinarian.

This informative handbook should, I suppose, be dipped-into rather than binged upon (as I did), but unlike your more typical medical encyclopedia, it is entertaining as well as informative, and is therefore likely to absorb you into the early hours of the morning.

The authors claim to have a cure for ailments ranging from existential angst and egotism to PMT, baldness and obesity. For instance, claustrophobics are advised to read Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder; those in the throes of man flu are lead gently to Victor Hugo’s Les Mis√©rables; and a good dose of Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel is said to be just the thing for facing your demons.

The Novel Cure will not only increase your reading list tenfold but will have you reaching for old favourites. It would make the perfect gift for a fiction-loving friend and will no doubt be passed around until it is completely dog-eared and itself in need of some TLC.

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