In 1726 in the small town of Godalming, England, a young woman confounds the medical community by giving birth to dead rabbits. This incredible true story is the basis for Dexter Palmer’s stunning, powerfully evocative new novel.
Surgeon’s apprentice Zachary Walsh knows that his master, John Howard, is a rational man. But even John cannot explain how or why Mary Toft, the wife of a local journeyman, manages to give birth to a dead rabbit. When this singular event becomes a regular occurrence, John and Zachary realize that nothing in their experience as rural physicians has prepared them to deal with a situation as strange and troubling as this one. John writes to several preeminent surgeons in London, three of whom quickly arrive in Godalming ready to observe and opine. When Mary’s plight reaches the attention of King George, Mary and her doctors are summoned to London, where Zachary experiences for the first time a world apart from his small-town existence and is exposed to some of the darkest corners of the human soul. All the while, Mary lies in bed, waiting for another birth, as doubts begin to blossom among the surgeons and a growing group of onlookers grow impatient for another miracle.
Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen: A Novel
- Available October 13, 2020