A devastating diagnosis leads a frivolous socialite to a more meaningful life.
Today, we are thrilled to be the stop on the Blog Tour for The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore
Title: The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore
Publisher: Kensington (July 27, 2021)
Print Lenght: 304 pages
ISBN-13 : 978-1496726513
In this thought-provoking and sensitive novel, inspired by the true story of a Louisiana leprosy hospital where patients were forcibly quarantined, acclaimed author Amanda Skenandore tells an extraordinarily timely tale of resilience, hope–and the last woman who expected to find herself in such a place…
1920s Los Angeles: Socialite Mirielle West’s days are crowded with shopping, luncheons, and prepping for the myriad glittering parties she attends with her actor husband, Charlie. She’s been too busy to even notice the small patch of pale skin on the back of her hand. Other than an occasional over-indulgence in gin and champagne, which helps to numb the pain of recent tragedy, Mirielle is the picture of health. But her doctor insists on more tests, and Mirielle reluctantly agrees.
The diagnosis–leprosy–is devastating and unthinkable. Changing her name to shield Charlie and their two young children, Mirielle is exiled to rural Louisiana for what she hopes will be a swift cure. But the hospital at Carville turns out to be as much a prison as a place of healing. Deaths far outnumber the discharges, and many patients have languished for years. Some are badly afflicted, others relatively unscathed. For all, the disease’s stigma is just as insidious as its physical progress.
At first, Mirielle keeps her distance from other residents, unwilling to accept her new reality. Gradually she begins to find both a community and a purpose at Carville, helping the nurses and doctors while eagerly anticipating her return home. But even that wish is tinged with uncertainty. How can she bridge the divide between the woman, wife, and mother she was, and the stranger she has become? And what price is she willing to pay to protect the ones she loves?
From the Publisher’s Blurb
Mirielle was a socialite, married to a movie star, living in Los Angeles in the mid-1920s.
After her son was killed in an accident, Mirielle’s shallow life got even more unstable by her constant drinking. She lived from party to party with a pasted smile on her lips.
One day, a minor burn leads to an unimaginable diagnosis. Mirielle had Hansen’s disease (leprosy).
Mirielle was then forcibly removed from her family and home and placed at a leper colony in Louisiana.
The book is a masterpiece; beautifully written and so very emotional.
Mirielle’s development throughout the pages was remarkably inspiring. It showed that even the worse fate can bring an opportunity for personal growth and that happiness is what one makes of it.
The side characters were unforgettable. Sister Verena touched me with her ambivalence: she was cold, but she helped Mirielle when she most needed it.
I loved the fact that the author did not sugarcoat the gravity of the patients’ situations. Things were dire, but life became bearable because of their mutual love, respect, and friendship.
Despite the sadness of the subject, the story is uplifting and encouraging. Even suffering from the disease and its stigma, the characters managed to find love, peace, and happiness.
The Second Life of Mirielle West is a beautiful and touching story about perseverance, hope, friendship, and love. Highly recommended!
Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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About the Author
Amanda is the author of BETWEEN EARTH AND SKY, winner of the American Library Association’s 2019 Reading List Award for Best Historical Fiction, and THE UNDERTAKER’S ASSISTANT, coming from Kensington in July 2019.
She grew up in the mountains of Colorado and sang and danced her way through 68 cities on both sides of the Atlantic with the service organization Up with People before starting college. Her love of historical fiction started early with the stories of Kenneth Thomasma, Mark Twain, and Laura Ingalls Wilder.
When she’s not writing, Amanda works as an infection prevention nurse. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their pet turtle Lenore.