#BookReview ‘The Second Life of Mirielle West’ by Amanda Skenandore #HistoricalFiction #TuesdayBookBlog

Today it is my pleasure to post my review of The Second Life of Mirielle West, an emotional historical fiction novel, based on real events, by Amanda Skenandore.


For Mirielle West, a 1920’s socialite married to a silent film star, the isolation and powerlessness of the Louisiana Leper Home is an unimaginable fall from her intoxicatingly chic life of bootlegged champagne and the star-studded parties of Hollywood’s Golden Age. When a doctor notices a pale patch of skin on her hand, she’s immediately branded a leper and carted hundreds of miles from home to Carville, taking a new name to spare her family and famous husband the shame that accompanies the disease.

At first she hopes her exile will be brief, but those sent to Carville are more prisoners than patients and their disease has no cure. Instead she must find community and purpose within its walls, struggling to redefine her self-worth while fighting an unchosen fate.

As a registered nurse, Amanda Skenandore’s medical background adds layers of detail and authenticity to the experiences of patients and medical professionals at Carville – the isolation, stigma, experimental treatments, and disparate community. A tale of repulsion, resilience, and the Roaring ‘20s, The Second Life of Mirielle West is also the story of a health crisis in America’s past, made all the more poignant by the author’s experiences during another, all-too-recent crisis. 

My Review

Where to begin to review this moving story? I’ll start with the end, by telling you I cried, and I haven’t cried at the end of a novel in a very long time.

The setting is the Louisiana institution known as Carville, where thousands of people were branded as lepers and forcibly quarantined throughout the entire 20th century. It was a dire place where the patients suffered illness, pain, desperation, isolation, for periods of up to fifteen years or more. The situation was worsened by the social and familial rejection they suffered. And yet, in spite of the horror, the inmates and staff, mostly religious nurses and doctors, managed to build a community of compassion, friendship, respect, and some, such as Mirielle, even found love.

Mirielle was not a likeable character at first, and at times, she became even more unlikeable, and yet, her character arc was so carefully drawn that it was impossible not to admire her resilience, courage, and ability to adapt to and even thrive in her new life. Her emotional growth, led to a heart-wrenching and uplifting conclusion, which she would not have had, had she not found meaning and hope in the most depressing place a person could be confined.

If you’re up for an emotional and meaningful rollercoaster, read it, you won’t regret it or forget it.

I listened to this novel on Scribd. Follow this link to see all her books on Scribd. It was narrated by Nicole Poole, an absolutely brilliant narrator, especially because her male voices sound authentically masculine.

You can find Amanda on Twitter: @ARShenandoah and on her Web Page

This is her Amazon.com Author Page and her Amazon UK Author Page

Happy Reading and have a wonderful week!

Beautiful and delicious lemons from my neighbour’s lemon tree!

Published by LucciaGray

Writer, blogger, teacher, reader and lover of words wherever they are. Author of The Eyre Hall Trilogy, the breathtaking sequel to Jane Eyre. Luccia lives in sunny Spain, but her heart's in Victorian London.

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