Cora Lee is ‘the impossible girl’. She was born on a blustery winter’s night in 1850, the bastard child of a socialite and a nameless immigrant. When she’s found to have two hearts the doctor is sure she won’t survive and even offers money for her body upon death. Immediately her caregivers decide to raise Cora as a boy to protect her from the clutches of those who would wish to harm her and dissect her body for medical research or worse, display it for the public to gawp and gasp at.
20 years later and Cora is now working as a resurrectionist, acquiring bodies for the Anatomists of New York. She specialises in finding the bodies of those with queer and unusual ailments, the things that Anatomists will pay the highest prices for. This speciality also helps her keep her ear to the ground so she would know if anyone were searching for anyone with her particular malady.
When people on her special list start to die unnatural deaths Cora no longer knows who she can trust or where to turn. Whoever the killer is, it is clear they are coming for her too. Can she find the killer and escape there clutches or will she be the next victim and body on display?
I’ve always had a love for the era that this book was set in and a long standing fascination with the history of medicine so this instantly struck me as the kind of book I’d enjoy. I was right; I was enthralled by this book from the opening pages and couldn’t put it down. The author has facts masterfully interlaced with fiction and it was clear that she had taken plenty of time researching the flagitious history of the study of anatomy. There were many times it was easy to forget I was reading a work of fiction
This book is beautifully written and the author was careful to use language appropriate to the time. While this often led to me having to look things up on google it helped the story overall and the only times I really felt confused is when Cora was dressed as her ‘brother’ Jacob but was still referred to as ‘Cora’ and using female pronouns.
This remarkable story had me on the edge of my seat and unable to tear myself away as it reached its climax. Who was the killer? Who had betrayed Cora and was seeking to profit from her demise? Will her secret be revealed to the world or would she escape? I couldn’t wait to find out and read the majority of the book in one sitting as I had to know how it ended.
‘The Impossible Girl’ is an incredible novel that you will not only enjoy reading but it will also teach you a lot about how we came to understand the human body as we do today. A great read for anyone who loves general fiction, historical fiction, crime and mystery.