At the beginning of the 20th century many parts of the Pacific Northwest were still, by our standards, still wild and unsettled. Across the Puget Sound from Seattle, a few small settlements had begun but with no ferry service across the water to the bigger towns, life was extremely challenging.
But in 1910, a woman calling herself "Doctor" Linda Hazzard founded a wellness retreat in the wilds of Olalla, Washington and began treating patients with her so-called "Fasting Cure." She then proceeded to systematically starve her patients to death whilst maneuvering herself into sole executor-ship of their estates.
the main house at
Starvation Wilderness Heights
Dr. Hazzard's retreat, called Wilderness Heights, was one of many alternative medicine establishments that were so popular with the wealthy and restless at the end of the Victorian era and it promised relief for a myriad of imagined ills.
Starvation Heights, a non-fiction work about the sensational trial from Western Washington that gripped the attention of the world, tells the story of Dora and Claire Williamson. Wealthy heiresses from England, Dora and Claire arrived at Wilderness Heights excited about the latest fad cure.
the infamous "doctor" herself
Unfortunately for the Williamson sisters, one of them would wind up dead of starvation and the other barely escaped with her life. "Dr." Hazzard would eventually be convicted of the murder of Claire Williamson, although how many patients she actually killed may be as high as forty or more.
While this book is centered around some fascinating local Western Washington history and lore, the delivery was so disjointed that it distracted from the subject. While the subject of Linda Hazzard and her "Starvation Heights" spa in Olalla, Washington at the turn of the century is riveting material for locals like myself, the author and editors left much to be desired.
Claire and Dora with a friend before their "treatment"
Dora after her "treatment"
The book relies far too heavily on quoted legal correspondence, almost as if the author was trying to flesh out a much shorter book. A good half of the book could have been cut to it's great benefit. Often times, the author will drop a historical tidbit, but leave out it's explanation, driving us to Google too many times to count.
Unless you are well-versed in Washington State history and must read everything ever printed on the subject, I'd recommend you skip this entirely. Instead, google old newspaper articles on Linda Hazzard and you'll find a better historical picture of the event and likely come away more satisfied.
Dear Mr. FTC: We paid a whopping $9.99 to download this disappointing book on to our Kindle. Can you arrange a refund, please?