Books: Taking the Cola Cure

In this historical epic, a woman struggles against a global flu epidemic and a ruthless soda baron

In her debut novel, 2000's Bee Season, Myla Goldberg intricately etched four members of a contemporary Jewish family and set them in motion against one another, charting the repercussions of even their subtlest interactions. For her follow-up, the author changes tack completely, striving for the historical epic. In Wickett's Remedy (Doubleday; 336 pages), the travails of Lydia Kilkenny, a young woman from an impoverished Irish Catholic family, are rooted in such global events as World War I and the 1918 flu epidemic that left millions dead.

Raised in the lowly confines of South Boston, Lydia goes to work in an upscale...

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