My Name is Mary Sutter~Robin Oliveira

If you like historical fiction, then you’ll love this book.  The main character, Mary Sutter, is a young woman struggling to become a doctor during the Civil War era. Mary is a midwife in her Albany, NY community but longs to learn more about medicine that just birthing babies. Though she tries to convince a local doctor to take her on, he refuses. In the 19th century, there is much prejudice against women holding any professional position, let alone that of doctor. With no letters of recommendation and no real hope to see her dream come to fruition, she responds to a public ad by none other than Dorothea Dix, calling females over the age of 30 to come to Washington D.C. to assist the military surgeons who have enlisted to provide medical care for the troops who will soon be at war.

Along the way, Mary finds she has caught the attention and unwittingly, the love of two surgeons, William Stipp and James Blevens, who have provided her guidance with her medical school endeavors. She ignores the request of her mother to return to Albany and assist in the birth of her twin sister’s baby in favor of pursuing a medical career in the overwhelmed hospitals of Washington D.C. There is a brief “appearance” by our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln as well as his secretary John Hay, who served in that position with Mr. Lincoln until 1864.

It’s obvious from reading all the minute detail in this book that she’s done her research both in historical events themselves and primitive surgical procedures of the time. Some of her descriptions are a little too good. lol  All in all though, I think this is a pretty good book and gives us a clear picture of just how ‘backwoods’ D.C. was way back when. I recommend this for anybody who loves history and is all about Girl Power.
Robin Oliveira holds an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts as well as a B.A. in Russian. She is a Registered Nurse, specializing in Critical Care and Bone Marrow Transplant. She is also the fiction editor for the literay magazine upstreet and a former assistant editor at Narrative Magazine


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