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My Name Is Mary Sutter: A Novel
by Robin Oliveira
Hardcover : 384 pages
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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.
The following is by no means an exhaustive accounting of the myriad books that helped me to understand not only the Civil War and its effect on its participants, but also the 19th century and its transportation systems, cities, and values. If I were to inventory my bibliography it its entirety, the list would go on for pages and pages. Numerous rare books, diaries, surgeonsâ?? manuals and government documents aided my research, including, for example, Hermann Hauptâ??s excellent memoirs and the surgery manual mentioned in My Name Is Mary Sutter. To compose this suggested reading list, I sampled my bookshelf. Some of these are reference books, some memoir, some great narratives of history. The books are readily available, with the exception of The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, which, however, is obtainable either through inter-library loan or in many librariesâ?? rare books collections. And finally, I would consider myself remiss if I did not include one very special work of fiction that influenced me tremendously as a writer, which I have listed first.
1) The Transit of Venus by Shirley Hazzard
2) The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, all six volumes (Now available as The Medical and Surgical History of the Civil War, but I used the original volumes to do my research)
3) Too Afraid to Cry: Maryland Civilians in the Antietam Campaign by Kathleen A. Ernst
4) Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 (The History of New York City) by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace
5) An Albany Girlhood by Huybertie Pruyn Hamlin
6) Our Army Nurses by Mary Gardner Holland
7) Revelle in Washington, 1860-1865 by Margaret Leech
8) The Civil War Day By Day: An Almanac, 1861-1865 by E. B. Long and Barbara Long
9) Mr. Lincolnâ??s City: An Illustrated Guide to the Civil War Sites of Washington by Richard M. Lee
10) Doctors in Blue: The Medical History of the Union Army in the Civil War by George Worthington Adams
(Photo of Robin Oliveira Â© Fred Milkie, Jr.)
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