The Second Life of Mirielle West
Books | Fiction / Historical / General
The glamorous world of a silent film star’s wife abruptly crumbles when she’s forcibly quarantined at the Carville Lepers Home in this page-turning story of courage, resilience, and reinvention set in 1920s Louisiana and Los Angeles. Based on little-known history, this timely book will strike a chord with readers of Fiona Davis, Tracey Lange, and Marie Benedict. * A 2023 Silicon Valley Reads Selection ** Reader's Digest Editor's Choice *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. “Scrupulous in her research and practically clairvoyant in her choice of urgent subjects — from the Indigenous boarding schools of her first novel to the disease and quarantine of The Second Life of Mirielle West — historical novelist Amanda Skenandore has quietly become one of the valley’s finest authors.” – The Las Vegas Review Journal
Community ReviewsSee all
"Who knew there was Leprosy in the U.S. in the 1920’s? Mirielle West, a wife and mother of three, discovers she has leprosy and life as she knows it is over. She is immediately thrown into a Leper Colony in Carville, Louisiana, where her treatment is shocking and maddening, and her future grim. This historical fiction is based accounts and experiences of those who passed through the gates of Carville, Louisiana’s national leprosarium."
"It was a slow read for me, however, I really loved this book."
"This Historical Fiction novel gives the reader a good insight as to what life was like for lepers. From the way they were treated by the public to being secluded in a camp, they had to learn to live a new life many times being disowned by their families. It was interesting to see the personal transformation of Mirelle West who went from being a silent movie stars wife to living in a leper hospital cut off from the rest of the world except through letters. "