Cover of 98 Reasons for Being

98 Reasons for Being

Clare Dudman

In 1852, a girl named Hannah Meyer, an inhabitant of Frankfurt?s notorious Jewish ghetto, is admitted to the town asylum. She has been silent for weeks, she will not sleep or eat, and wagging tongues have resulted in a diagnosis of nymphomania. Ignoring this, Hannah?s mother begs the asylum?s new doctor to treat her. He is the revolutionary Dr Heinrich Hoffmann, physician, alienist, reforming politician and author of the famous book of children?s rhymes, ’’Struwwelpeter’’. Hoffman uses all the methods at his disposal, from ice packs and blood letting to electrodes, in an increasingly obsessed effort to cure Hannah. Nothing works, until he resorts to talking - telling her anecdotes from his youth, revealing the case-histories of Hannah?s fellow patients, confessing to his troubled home life. Only then does Hannah begin to respond, and gradually yield her tale of love, transgression and prejudice. As Hoffman uncovers the secret of one human mind he also starts to make sense of his own: what is important, what will last and what aspects of him will remain - what, in the end, are his real reasons for being.

Contemporary fiction
Publishing Details:
Sceptre, 2004

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