Written by Gillen D’Arcy Wood
Published by Other Press
Review by Thomas Scott
Hosack’s Folly is a fascinating first novel from Gillen D’Arcy Wood about medicine, politics, and journalism and how those three factors evolved into our modern policies.
It is 1820s New York City, and David Hosack is the doctor known for tending Alexander Hamilton after his famous duel with Burr. Hosack is afraid for the safety of New York City citizens with the appearance of yellow fever, but politics (and politicians) get in his way in his quest to quarantine the people to keep the disease from spreading. In a Dickensian way, Wood brings us through the darkest parts of NYC—the hospitals, the Bowery, the inner workings of politics—until the dissention comes to a head in riots and crowds escaping the city in panic. Hosack founds the Bellevue Hospital at Columbia University Medical School for yellow fever victims, but that is not the end of the journey.
This is a fine work of historical fiction that shows both fact and fiction in an engaging way, and the character of Hosack is one that will stay with readers long after they have finished the book.
Thomas Scott is a freelance writer from Los Angeles, California. He lives with his wife and their three daughters.