As a girl growing up in the south, I viewed the Civil War era in romantic terms. I pictured girls in hoop skirts on picturesque lawns in front of beautiful plantation homes. Of course, I know those years weren’t as glamorous as Gone With the Wind portrays. Like all wars, the Civil War devastated many in our nation and changed families and lives forever.
In her debut novel My Name Is Mary Sutter, Robin Oliveira tells the story of a young midwife who dreams of becoming a doctor and surgeon. While that might seem normal to us, the idea that a woman could qualify to serve as a doctor or be exposed to the unseemly tasks involved with medicine was preposterous. Although Mary Sutter is a talented midwife, her request to train as a surgeon is repeatedly rejected (there weren’t even formal nursing schools at the time). Then, the War begins, and only 27 surgeons (and no nurses) are ready to assist the wounded. When the call for help goes out, Mary Sutter leaves her home for Washington so she can serve as a nurse and learn more about medicine and surgery. In her new role, she quickly faces the grim realities of sickness and death, while also facing personal struggles and problems within her family.
My Name Is Mary Sutter is a fascinating story. The horrors of the Civil War, including the lack of understanding about germs and disease (the surgeons didn’t even wash their hands between patients), are vividly portrayed, but in a way that is part of a compelling narrative about a strong young woman. Through the author’s words, I could imagine young Mary bounding away from home to save the world, watch her transformation when the realities of life and death set in, and admire her for her strength, courage, and resolution. My Name Is Mary Sutter is a touching and captivating novel, and I highly recommend it.
Lauren is a wife, mother of two, and and avid reader. She thanks Viking Publishing for providing the review copy of this book. Lauren blogs at Baseballs and Bows.
Wow, sounds interesting and fairly eye-opening… I can’t believe they wouldn’t even wash their hands. But times were different then, certainly. Thanks for the review 🙂
It is amazing. Apparently, they learned about the role of germs about 10 years after the Civil War. Since a majority of Civil War soldiers died from germ-related problems, simple things like hand-washing could have made a huge difference. I thought all of this was very interesting!
This sounds very interesting. I’ve seen this one around. Maybe I should pick it up.
I have heard nothing but good about this novel; I’m heading over to Good Reads right now to put it on my to-buy list!
This one sounds terrific. I’d read it based on the cover alone, but it just sounds good anyway!
I agree. They did an excellent job with the cover.
I want to read this book! Thanks for your review, Lauren!