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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Woman With The Cure

Narrator: Hillary Huber

Penguin Audio

ISBN: 978-0593438060

Publisher: Berkley

Publication Date: 02/21/2023

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

She gave up everything — and changed the world.

A riveting novel based on the true story of the woman who stopped a pandemic, from the bestselling author of Mrs. Poe.

In 1940s and ’50s America, polio is as dreaded as the atomic bomb. No one’s life is untouched by this disease that kills or paralyzes its victims, particularly children. Outbreaks of the virus across the country regularly put American cities in lockdown. Some of the world’s best minds are engaged in the race to find a vaccine. The man who succeeds will be a god.

But Dorothy Horstmann is not focused on beating her colleagues to the vaccine. She just wants the world to have a cure. Applying the same determination that lifted her from a humble background as the daughter of immigrants, to becoming a doctor –often the only woman in the room--she hunts down the monster where it lurks: in the blood.

This discovery of hers, and an error by a competitor, catapults her closest colleague to a lead in the race. When his chance to win comes on a worldwide scale, she is asked to sink or validate his vaccine—and to decide what is forgivable, and how much should be sacrificed, in pursuit of the cure.

My Review

Lynn Cullen's latest, THE WOMAN WITH THE CURE is a gripping, powerful re-imagining historical fiction of a courageous woman inspired by a true story from the author of Mrs. Poe.

This highly recommended novel centers around the life of Dr. Dorothy Hortsmann, a tenacious female doctor whose contribution to the development of the polio vaccine helped to end the horrific disease.

In 1940, Dorothy was rejected from Vanderbilt's residency program because she was a woman and was given to a man. She was the only female doctor among esteemed scientists, she dedicated her life to confirming her hypothesis that polio travels through the blood to the nervous system.

In the 1940s and '50s, polio was a horrific disease that killed and paralyzed its victims, particularly children. My parents talked about this all the time and many family members suffered. I also had a best friend in high school with polio. (she now has dementia).

The virus outbreak put the country in lockdown, similar to the COVID pandemic. They needed to come up with a vaccine and a cure.

American heroine and dedicated Dr. Dorothy Horstmann, a daughter of immigrants, a determined doctor who wants nothing more than to come up with a cure. She gave up everything, sacrificed— and changed the world. She was willing to put the children's good ahead of her prestige, time and time again.

Men took her work and credit in a world that overlooked her research and findings. Finally, her discovery opens the door for the vaccine.

She later became a Yale professor and traveled extensively to polo outbreaks. She falls in love with Arne Holm, who saved Danish Jews from the Nazis; however, ending the polio disease and curing it was her first love. Without her efforts, we would not have a vaccine today.

COMPELLING! Beautifully rendered, heart-wrenching, and meticulously researched, THE WOMAN WITH THE CURE is a timely story as the author brings scientific medical research and history to the forefront.

Not only did fearless Dr. Horstmann have to deal with unfunded programs, lack of support, and being overshadowed by men; there was a sense of urgency as a race against time to come up with a cure as children were dying and afflicted. You will root for Dorothy from the first page to the last. I enjoyed meeting the mothers, wives, and children and their stories.

An inspiring work of art and hope! A master storyteller.

Highly recommend the audiobook narrated by the fabulous Hillary Huber! An outstanding performance, an engaging listening experience, and a perfect voice for this moving story.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars

Pub Date: Feb 21, 2023


“Cullen paints a richly layered portrait of this dedicated and determined doctor, set against a background of midcentury postwar America. There are heartbreaking scenes of young polio patients, poignant accounts of the personal cost paid by those engaged in the search for a cure, and clinical descriptions of the disease, the treatments used, and the experiments conducted in the quest for a cure. … A powerful blend of biography and imagination with a main character whom readers won’t soon forget.”

—Library Journal

“Cullen’s portrait of the steadfast, self-sacrificing Dorothy hits home and is made more stirring by the vivid depictions of young polio patients. This author is writing at the top of her game.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Ms. Cullen is the Bronte of our day.”

– Huffington Post

“Cullen’s gift for bringing cultural and literary icons to life shines.”

– Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Everyone knows Sabin and Salk created the polio vaccine, but without the work of Dr. Dorothy Horstmann, there never would have been a vaccine in the first place. So huge applause to The Woman With the Cure for bringing Dorothy's brilliant work to the forefront—and for reminding us that women have always been in science—despite those who would pretend otherwise.”

—Bonnie Garmus, New York Times bestselling author of Lessons in Chemistry

“In The Woman with the Cure, Lynn Cullen illuminates the story of Dr. Dorothy Horstmann, a scientist who was instrumental in discovering the polio vaccine. Through meticulous research and elegant prose, Cullen pens an important and timely story of one of the previously unheard voices of medical history in the race to cure a pandemic and the result is a rewarding read that both enlightens and entertains.”

—Pam Jenoff, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Woman with the Blue Star

"With emotional honesty and prose that rings with lyrical detail, Lynn Cullen expertly takes us back to the world where polio slays our children and a pandemic places us in isolation. Cullen shows us who we might be without the genius of women who are willing to put it all on the line for a cure. From behind the eyes and heart of a woman determined to save a generation of children by hunting down a cure, The Woman With the Cure is an enlightening and immersive read. Working against time and mystery, Dr. Dorothy Horstmann must not only battle the mysterious virus but also a system that can’t bear a woman at its center. Dorothy’s scientific imagination shook the medical community, and Lynn Cullen’s re-imagining of her life and work is powerful, visionary and inspired."

—Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times Bestselling Author of Surviving Savannah and Becoming Mrs. Lewis

“The warm and wonderful The Woman with the Cure, brings brilliantly to life the story of the real Dorothy Horstmann, whose extraordinary discovery made possible the vaccines that ended the polio pandemic of the 1940s and 50s. Lynn Cullen’s novel deftly breaks down the science and brilliantly delivers a complex cast of characters in a compelling page-turner of a novel about the race for the cure to that pandemic, and pulls from the shadows of history this extraordinary woman who literally changed our world. I could not put this astounding story down.”

—Meg Waite Clayton, international bestselling author of The Postmistress of Paris

“Lynn Cullen shows off her mastery of the craft in a thrilling and heart-wrenching tale about the race to eradicate polio. We meet Salk, Sabine, and the countless other figures who worked together—and sometimes against one another—to save lives. We also meet mothers, wives, and other women whose sacrifices enabled progress. But at the center of the story is Dorothy Horstmann, the brilliant but unheralded American heroine who charted her own course with one clear goal in mind: saving lives. And it was her discovery that enabled the vaccines. This timely and important novel will touch you, inspire you, and leave you with a sense of hope about what dedicated scientists can achieve.”

—Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of The Women of Chateau Lafayette

"In The Woman With the Cure, Lynn Cullen gives us a meticulous and engaging account of Dorothy Horstmann, another woman whose accomplishments have been overshadowed by men. Without Dorothy’s determination and courage there would be no vaccine for polio, and in this engrossing, timely read, we finally know how much she and so many other women like her sacrificed in order to accomplish the impossible. HERstory at its finest.”

—Melanie Benjamin, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Aviator’s Wife and The Children’s Blizzard

"In this all-engrossing and poignant historical novel, Lynn Cullen expertly brings this unsung heroine’s story to the forefront with her portrayal of a fearless woman whose accomplishments largely eclipsed those of her male colleagues and helped save a generation of children. The research that must have gone into this novel is mindboggling and yet Cullen delivers it with the skill of a masterful storyteller. I was rooting for Dorothy the whole way through. Her journey will inspire and stay with readers long after the last page is turned."

—Renee Rosen, USA Today Bestselling author of The Social Graces

About the Author

National bestselling author Lynn Cullen grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her novel, MRS. POE was named a Book of the Week by People Magazine, a Target Book Club Pick, an NPR 2013 Great Read, an Indie Next List selection. the book of the month at Costco, an Oprah Book of the Week, and Best of 2013 by Atlanta Magazine. TWAIN'S END was a People Magazine Book of the Week, a Townsend Prize finalist, an Indie Next selection, and named a Book All Georgians Should Read by the Georgia Center for the Book. Her novels have been translated into seventeen languages and she has appeared on PBS American Masters. Her newest novel, THE SISTERS OF SUMMIT AVENUE, will be released September 2019 and is available for pre-order. She lives in Atlanta with her large family when not on the road researching her next book. WEBSITE







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