Clare Beams

The Illness Lesson
  • The Illness Lesson

  • _______________

    "Brilliant, suspenseful, beautifully-executed. With power, subtlety, and keen intelligence, Clare Beams has somehow crafted a tale that feels like both classical ghost story and like a modern (and very timely) scream of female outrage. A masterpiece."
    Elizabeth Gilbert

    At an elite and progressive boarding school designed to shape the minds of young women, the students have been overwhelmed by an inexplicable illness. One by one, they begin to experience the same peculiar symptoms: rashes, seizures, headaches, verbal tics, night wanderings.

    Soon Caroline – the only woman teaching – is suffering too. She tries desperately to her symptoms but, with the girls’ condition worsening, the powers-that-be turn to a sinister physician with grave and dubious methods.

    Caroline alone can speak on behalf of the students, but only if she summons the confidence to question everything she’s ever learnt. Does she have the strength to confront the all-male, all-knowing authorities of her world and protect the young women in her care?

    Distinctive, haunting, irresistible, The Illness Lesson is an intensely vivid debut about women's minds and bodies, and the time-honoured tradition of doubting both.

RELEASED 06/02/2020

Clare Beams' short story collection was published in October 2016. It won the Kirkus Best Debut and was a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize. Clare lives in Pittsburgh, where she teaches creative writing, most recently at Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh Centre for the Arts. This is her first novel.