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Saturday, October 2, 2010

My Name is Mary Sutter...Review

About the book:
An enthralling historical novel about a young woman's struggle to become a doctor during the Civil War. 

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.

Compelling, well written and well researched.  It just wasn't something that resonated with me.  Robin Oliveira has certainly done her research and it shows.  Her vivid descriptions of birth and death and battlefield hospitals are graphic and not for the squeamish.  War is horrible, and war time conditions in any era are difficult. War time conditions during the Civil War were abominable and are, I believe, accurately portrayed here. 

The story was more clinical than moving.  The historical aspect showing the early days of the suffrage movement and western medicine was fascinating.  However, I never cared about nor had sympathy for any of the characters.  Mary was strong and driven and brave.  She just wasn't very likeable. Overall, a fascinating disappointment.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 9/10

* *
2/5 Stars


  1. Oh, my -- what a shame! I've heard good reviews on this, but I will bear your review in mind. Always good to have a diversified base to make decisions on -- thanks!

  2. The book does sound interesting - it's too bad the reader is kept at arm's length.

  3. Hi Holly! I really like how you described the book - "more clinical, than moving." And, I agree, Mary didn't have much charm. She was not an easy one to warm up to.

  4. Good review. I agree with a lot of what you said.

    I did wonder what happen to those side characters. You know the husband and wife? What happen to them. Did I miss something?

  5. This is the first one I've read that wasn't glowing. I liked reading your thoughts and still think I may one day read this one.

  6. Aw, too bad this one didn't work for you. I've read others with the same opinion of Mary. I, on the other hand, really enjoyed this one!