Friday, July 23, 2010

Review-My Name is Mary Sutter

by Robin Oliveira
Viking/Penguin Group
$26.95/$33.50 Can; 384 pages
ISBN 13 978-0670021673
May 13, 2010

Mary Sutter, shared the womb with her sister Jenny, but in her words her life is more in “competition than cooperation” with her neonatal twin. Mary has followed in her mother’s footsteps as a midwife. Considered by many to have far surpassed her mother’s talents, Mary is competent and popular, regarded with high esteem. However, she wants more. Following her life’s passion to become a surgeon, she seeks admittance to the Albany Medical College. Facing gender prejudice, her application is denied. With an indomitable spirit she seeks alternatives to learn to become a surgeon. She is called upon to help deliver a breach baby where she meets James Blevin, a surgeon. Although impressed with Mary’s technique, he denies her request to become her teacher. When the Civil War breaks out, Dorothea Dix forms an organization to hire a corp of nurses. Mary travels to Washington, DC to answer the ad, but is denied because of her age. With a fiery determination and unshakable resolve to fight prejudice in her way, she finally ends up insinuating herself upon Dr. Sipps another surgeon. He works in a retched, unsanitary, disease filled overcrowded hospital. Sipps is overwhelmed with the wounded and sick but reluctantly allows Mary Sutter to assist, watch and listen. She is witness to bloody battlefields where she must step over the dead and seriously wounded, maimed and diseased. What she learns is more than she ever expected as she is faced with difficult choices. The battle between the North and South, is a metaphor for her own guilt over family, career prejudice, love and reconciliation.

Mary Sutter is an unforgettable character, a role model of distinct strength. With determination and raw nerve she overcomes not only the prejudices that seek to impede her goal to become a surgeon, but she presses her own character beyond the limits of human tolerance. This is a graphic and brutally honest depiction of the massive carnage that resulted during the Civil War when canon artillery combined with limited medical knowledge and inadequate supplies decimated hundreds of thousands of men. Even still, Robin Oliveira’s storytelling is captivating and is a welcomed addition of historical fiction for anyone interested in reading about this period. A dramatically compelling story, tearful and tragically real, sure to produce deep breathing and serious pondering of the past. With my highest recommendation, this will be a top ten of 2010.

Disclosure: This copy was sent to me by Viking Press. This review is offered without bias and is my honest opinion.

© [Wisteria Leigh] and [Bookworm's Dinner], [2010].


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Glad you loved this one as well; great review!

Iliana said...

I've been reading a couple of reviews of this one and it really does sound like a good read. Quite a different perspective on the war right?

Thank you for the review - you know it's going on my list :)

The Bookworm said...

I saw this one at the book store and it caught my eye.
Great review. Its always nice when the main character is unforgettable. If its on your top list of 2010 reads, it must be really great.

Sarah at SmallWorld said...

Wow! With that review, I am adding it to my TBR list!

wisteria said...

Diane..Thanks, I keep talking about it to my friends

Iliana..It is a fabulous perspective. You have to read this one.

Naida..I hope you get a chance to read it. My sister was surprised I got through some of the medical scenes, but I had no problem with it.

Small Worlds...Thanks for stopping. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

RAnn said...

I just finished it and I too loved it. I loved the way it incorporates medicine, war, and even love. I thought it was interesting the way Mary was often referred to as Mary Sutter, not just as Mary. Definitely worth the read.

Sarah at SmallWorld said...

Finally read this. Thanks for the great recommendation!