Prudence, an intelligent girl interested in the sciences, is stuck in a school for girls with the primary focus of finding the proper husband. Living with her mother, a hardworking midwife, Prudence knows she can do more in her life, but is afraid to pursue an actual career, not wanting to disappoint her mother.
When a job offer comes along to assist an epidemiologist with the Department of Health and Sanitation, particularly studying the spread of typhoid, Prudence knows she wants the position. And after much convincing, her mother allows her to leave school and take the job. Writing in her diary each day, the reader is along for the ride as Prudence not only begins to learn the ins and outs of being a scientist, but also as she navigates a man's world, and follows the now-famous Typhoid Mary.
I was totally intrigued by the idea of this novel and was definitely not disappointed. I had no idea of all the details of the Typhoid Mary case and learned a whole lot from the book, even with it being fiction. Learning about Mary Mallon and the manner in which she was treated while scientists tried to determine how she was carrying the germs was truly fascinating and horrifying at the same time. That poor woman must have been terrified!
I loved seeing such a strong girl in a historical novel being portrayed in such a realistic way. The setting was described perfectly, allowing me to visualize where Prudence was coming from, both literally and figuratively and her emotions were beautifully written through the journal entries, right down to the details of being Jewish in that time period. The religious aspect wasn't front and center, but a great detail.
I'm a huge fan of historical fiction and this was a fantastic book!