'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
Astoundingly original, this impressive debut belongs on the shelf with your Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler collections.
The Illness Lesson is a brilliant, suspenseful, beautifully-executed psychological thriller. 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. I stayed up all night to finish reading it, and I can still feel its impact thrumming through my mind and body. A masterpiece.
‘Subtle, clever, suspenseful . . . builds to a shocking climax’
Alcott meets Shirley Jackson, with a splash of Margaret Atwood. It’s dark, quirky and even titillating . . . on the edge between realism and ghost story
A top pick for the coming year . . . this haunting novel blends historical fiction with a timely comment on women’s bodies and minds, and those who think they can control them. Unmissable.