by Robin Oliveira
Sherry J. read this and highly recommends it. We have not read anything from the Civil War era, so this seemed like a good one. Reviews are included below:
From Publishers Weekly:
The Civil War offers a 20-year-old midwife who dreams of becoming a doctor the medical experience she craves, plus hard work and heartbreak, in this rich debut that takes readers from a small upstate New York doctor's office to a Union hospital overflowing with the wounded and dying. Though she's too young for the nursing corps, Mary Sutter goes to Washington, anyway, and, after a chance meeting with a presidential secretary, is led to the Union Hotel Hospital, where she assists chief surgeon William Stipp and becomes so integral to Stipp's work she ignores her mother's pleas to return home to deliver her sister's baby. From a variety of perspectives—Mary, Stipp, their families, and social, political, and military leaders—the novel offers readers a picture of a time of medical hardship, crisis, and opportunity. Oliveira depicts the amputation of a leg, the delivery of a baby, and soldierly life; these are among the fine details that set this novel above the gauzier variety of Civil War fiction. The focus on often horrific medicine and the women who practiced it against all odds makes for compelling reading. (May)
Oliveira’s graceful, assured portrayal of a courageous woman shines through in her outstanding debut novel. Mary Sutter’s expert midwifery skills are renowned throughout Albany, New York, in 1861, yet she yearns for more. After local physicians refuse to formally train her in medicine, and her hoped-for husband chooses her twin sister instead, she heads south to Washington, D.C., bringing only a valise and her single-minded ambition. Mary runs into prejudicial roadblocks even there but gains acceptance as a charwoman-turned-nurse at the Union Hotel hospital. While caring for wounded, disease-ridden soldiers under appalling conditions, she persistently ignores family pressures to return home. The viewpoint shifts between Mary, her family members, two doctors who come to love her, and real-life figures like Lincoln and Dorothea Dix, ensuring an intimate yet wide-ranging portrait of the chaos, ineptitude, and heartbreak of wartime. Oliveira has a firm grasp on the finer details of the era and lets readers form their own judgments about the painful decisions made by her appealingly vulnerable characters. This impressive historical epic deserves a large readership. --Sarah Johnson
The publisher of MY NAME IS MARY SUTTER hopes for a first novel that is memorable, compelling, readable and exceptional. MY NAME IS MARY SUTTER fills the bill. In the contemporary USA nearly 50% of medical students are female. During civil war times,it was considered preposterous that any woman could aspire to be a physician and surgeon. Mary was a skilled midwife, having learned this from her Mother Amelia. People sought Mary out to deliver their babies. Mary was skilled, tender, and dedicated. Nonetheless she aspired to be a doctor.She was ridiculed, pushed aside, told she wanted too much and forced to be a charwoman rather than a nurse. As the civil war wound on with its horrible butchery, Mary's skills were needed and respected. In the war surgery consisted of amputations. Medicines were crude and often in short supply or nonexistent. The soldiers and the medical people who assisted them suffered terribly. More soldiers died from disease and inadequate treatment than in battle.
Mary persevered and became a physician and surgeon.In this quest she had to overcome heartbreaking and gut-wrenching circumstances of personal and profession grief. This book is worthy of your time and attention. Don't pass it by.
Amazon Reader BookLover2
I jumped into this book with great expectations. About half way through, the book kept on going on and on about amputating the limbs off the soldiers. I'm ok with some gore in a book, but page after page of very detailed descriptions was more than I could take. I didn't finish it, which is a rare thing for me.