Saturday, June 8, 2013

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

Synopsis(via Goodreads):
In this stunning first novel, Mary Sutter is a brilliant, head­strong midwife from Albany, New York, who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Determined to overcome the prejudices against women in medicine-and eager to run away from her recent heartbreak- Mary leaves home and travels to Washington, D.C. to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of William Stipp and James Blevens-two surgeons who fall unwittingly in love with Mary's courage, will, and stubbornness in the face of suffering-and resisting her mother's pleas to return home to help with the birth of her twin sister's baby, Mary pursues her medical career in the desperately overwhelmed hospitals of the capital.

Like Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Robert Hicks's The Widow of the South, My Name Is Mary Sutter powerfully evokes the atmosphere of the period. Rich with historical detail (including marvelous depictions of Lincoln, Dorothea Dix, General McClellan, and John Hay among others), and full of the tragedies and challenges of wartime, My Name Is Mary Sutter is an exceptional novel. And in Mary herself, Robin Oliveira has created a truly unforgettable heroine whose unwavering determination and vulnerability will resonate with readers everywhere.
This insomniac's opinion:
My friend Jenni(better known as founder of the infamous P- Posse) recommended this novel to me and her recommendation was spot on!
One of my many fascinations(anyone out there keeping a list??? How many unusual fascinations must I have so far?) is midwifery, especially in the time when midwives delivered most, if not all, babies. This novel's protagonist, Mary Sutter- a midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon,  is quite possibly the strongest willed female character of any recent novel that I have read. Her strength, intelligence and persistence was inspiring at every turn.
As a nurse, I loved that the author wrote of famous nurses from this time period, such as Dorthea Dix and Clara Barton. I think that, often, the sacrifices of our brave nurses at war time is overlooked. This novel showed the true bravery of these women. I also enjoyed the brief passages that included President Lincoln(whomever out there has started the list of my freakish fascinations, kindly add Mr. Lincoln to that list!).
There were a few parts of this novel that were slow moving, but overall this was a wonderful read!
Worth staying up all night to read?
Yes! Prepare to be inspired by the women who came before us.
Rating: 4 stars

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