The Winter Sisters by Tim Westover Review

I don’t want to jinx my luck, but I have read a lot of great books recently. The Winter Sisters was definitely one. I loved it from the beginning. The chapters titles are great. Chapter one is titled, “Hot Damn and Pass the Pepper Sauce.” My husband and I thought it was hilarious.

Dr. Waycross is a doctor based in science. The kind of doctoring that was around in 1822. Bleeding and blistering are his relied on remedies until he is called to Lawrenceville, Georgia. His patients favor the healing of the Winter sisters even if they fear they are witches. When rabies comes to town, Doctor Waycross realizes he has a lot to learn from these herbal women.

In the beginning, Dr. Waycross is pompous and self righteous. He believes his way is the only way to heal and all other is superstition.He has a fall from grace and becomes more open minded toward the Winter sisters’ cures.

The book is dual perspective of Dr. Waycross and the sisters. The way Sarah was introduced was hilarious. I wished there was just a little more from the sisters’ perspective though. I loved them as characters.

This is a story that caters to a specific audience. It is historical fiction and deals with a lot of superstition. But more than that, it deals with medicine. If you don’t already know the history of medicine and the practice of bleeding to balance humors you would think Dr. Waycross was outlandish. However, that was common medical practice of the time. Since I already have a knowledge of herbal medicine I found several parts humorous. Without that knowledge it would have lost its charm. In once part Waycross was going to bleed himself to cure his chronic headache. Rebecca offered him willow bark and he went through a monologue of how silly and unscientific it was. Since I knew willow bark was the predecessor to aspirin I thought this was hilarious. Rebecca also treated infection with molded bread. Penicillin is an antibiotic made from bacteria that can be found on molded bread.

There was a mysterious event between Effie and Rebecca that happened in the past. When it was revealed it felt slightly anti-climatic. I already guessed what had happened.

The ending was shocking. It took a turn I did not expect. Effie was a mystery through the entire book and the end really focused on her.

The Winter Sisters was a unique read. I have never read anything like it and I loved every minute of it.

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