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My name is Mary Sutter
2010
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Characters
Mary Sutter (Female), Dreams of becoming a surgeon; travels to Washington, D.C.;
Setting
Washington, D.C. - Mid-Atlantic States (U.S.)
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Despite her skill as a midwife, Mary Sutter cannot overcome the obstacle that bars her from further medical training: her gender. The Civil War changes everything. After her brother enlists in the Union Army, Mary follows him from Albany to Washington, DC, to volunteer as a nurse. She ends up at the ramshackle Union Hotel, crowded with recruits dying of disease, where Dr. William Stipp reluctantly agrees to hire her. As Union losses mount, her work becomes essential. But she relents to her mother's pleas to return home to help her twin sister through childbirth. After failing to save her sister, Mary returns to the front, where she eventually performs surgery in partnership with Stipp, whose admiration for her skill deepens to love before new family concerns carry her home again. VERDICT Oliveira deftly depicts the chaotic aftermath of battles and develops her own characters while incorporating military and political leaders of the time. The historic details enrich the narrative without overshadowing Mary's struggles. This well-written and compelling debut will engage all readers of historical fiction, especially those interested in the Civil War. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 1/10; eight-city tour.]-Kathy Piehl, Minnestoa State Univ. Lib., Mankato (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

The Civil War offers a 20-year-old midwife who dreams of becoming a doctor the medical experience she craves, plus hard work and heartbreak, in this rich debut that takes readers from a small upstate New York doctor's office to a Union hospital overflowing with the wounded and dying. Though she's too young for the nursing corps, Mary Sutter goes to Washington, anyway, and, after a chance meeting with a presidential secretary, is led to the Union Hotel Hospital, where she assists chief surgeon William Stipp and becomes so integral to Stipp's work she ignores her mother's pleas to return home to deliver her sister's baby. From a variety of perspectives-Mary, Stipp, their families, and social, political, and military leaders-the novel offers readers a picture of a time of medical hardship, crisis, and opportunity. Oliveira depicts the amputation of a leg, the delivery of a baby, and soldierly life; these are among the fine details that set this novel above the gauzier variety of Civil War fiction. The focus on often horrific medicine and the women who practiced it against all odds makes for compelling reading. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Summary
An enthralling historical novel about a young woman's struggle to become a doctor during the Civil War <br> <br> 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.<br> <br> 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.
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