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Poetry Advent Calendar 11: The Novel Cure

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The Poetry Round

Is the grey winter sky making you blue? Do you suffer from Zestlessness? Or are you fettered by ailments as diverse as Insomnia, Gambling and High Blood Pressure? Reader, we share your pain. However, we bring tidings of good news: The Novel Cure is here to help.

Armed with the knowledge of a bibliophile, a jaunty dash of optimism and a wry pinch of salt, Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin offer prescriptions in the form of novels--from Austen to Alexander McCall Smith--for some of life's common ailments in The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies. They offer up fictional plasters and poultices by invoking Dorian Gray to remind us of the perils of Vanity and flourishing The Little Prince to ward off Carelessness. If one of your ailments is that of 'Broke, Being', and buying the book is unlikely to help you, never fear. You can always consult the selected list of remedies on The Novel Cure's website or visit their online surgery to request a prescription for any more unusual misfortunes.

If you prefer more poetical remedies, you could also refer yourself to the Poetry Doctor at Edinburgh University's newspaper The Student, who uses Keats and Dr Seuss to battle the injustices of daily student life. In the words of the Poetry Doctor herself, 'all problems will be treated confidentially. And ever so seriously.'

Alternatively, let yourself be inspired, and start a list of your own "home-brewed" cures. Do you reread Northhanger Abbey when concerned you might be too gullible? Or would you recommend Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market to those in danger of falling victim to gluttony? Send your suggestions to @slender_means or poetry[at]