One Thousand Porches by Julie Dewey is a novel that takes you back in time when diseases simply took people’s lives. Back in the 1800’s medications such as we have today did not exist. This novel weaves fact with fiction and takes us back to when tuberculosis was a deadly disease and many lives were lost.
At the beginning of this novel TB is starting to make its presence known in many smaller towns. We meet Christine who loses two children to the disease and when a third comes down with it she vows not to lose her but realizes quickly she’s fighting a losing battle. That is until her husband tells her of a place called Saranac Lake in the Adirondack Mountains that is referred to as a sanitarium and takes on the sick and cares for them. Being a family of means he is able to secure a spot for his daughter Collette and Christine goes along to be of service any way she can.
Arriving there Christine realizes that there are many that need help and not just those in the sanitarium. She also sees though that the work that Dr. Trudeau is doing with these TB patients is making a difference and some actually go on to live a normal life. It is believed the clean mountain air and rest is what helps these patients recover. The patients spend the majority of their days sitting out on the porch in lounge chairs that are dubbed the cure chairs. The most remarkable thing about being at this sanitarium is that the town does not shun TB patients which is in great contrast to how they are treated elsewhere.
This novel was fascinating. Of course I know of TB but to hear the history behind what Dr. Trudeau did for so many is remarkable. It was also interesting to learn more about the disease and very interesting to see how doctors tried to treat diseases like this in the past. I can’t imagine how hard it was for families to watch their loved ones die one after the other because there was no way to help them. Entire families were wiped out. We are very fortunate today to have the medications that we do that save so many lives.
I think anyone interested in history and especially the history of TB and the development of the first sanitariums should enjoy this novel. I’ve read one other of Julie’s books and I find her writing to be very frank and real. Nothing is sugar coated and is presented in such a way that you feel the pain and hardship of her characters. I look forward to seeing what subject Julie tackles next!
Source: Review copy provided by the author. No compensation was received for this review and all opinions are my own.