Clare Beams

The Illness Lesson
  • The Illness Lesson

  • 'A modern scream of female outrage. A masterpiece' ELIZABETH GILBERT

    'Astoundingly original . . . belongs on the shelf with your Margaret Atwood' NEW YORK TIMES

    Haunting, intense and irresistible, The Illness Lesson is an extraordinary debut about women's minds and bodies, and the time-honoured tradition of doubting both.

    In 1871, at an elite new school designed to shape the minds of young women, the inscrutable and defiant Eliza Bell has been overwhelmed by an inexplicable illness.

    Before long, the other girls start to succumb to its peculiar symptoms - rashes, tics,
    night wanderings and fits.

    As the disease takes hold, teacher Caroline Hood tries desperately to hide her own symptoms, but
    the powers-that-be turn to a sinister physician with dubious methods.

    Does Caroline have the courage to confront the all-male, all-knowing authorities of her world
    and protect the young women in her care?

    'You want to know how horrifying things happened while decent people looked on and did nothing? Read this novel' MARY BETH KEANE

    'Subtle, clever, suspenseful . . . builds to a shocking climax' DIANE SETTERFIELD

    'A Sunday Times Book to Read in 2020: A classic ghost story for fans of Picnic at Hanging Rock, Deborah Levy, Jeffrey Eugenides' SUNDAY TIMES STYLE

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.

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