My Name Is Mary Sutter

My Name Is Mary Sutter

Book - 2010
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Penguin Putnam
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.

Baker & Taylor
Traveling to Civil War-era Washington, D.C. to tend wounded soldiers and pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon, headstrong midwife Mary receives guidance from two smitten doctors and resists her mother's pleas for her to return home. A first novel.

& Taylor

Traveling to Civil War-era Washington, D.C., to tend wounded soldiers and pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon, headstrong midwife Mary receives guidance from two smitten doctors and resists her mother's pleas for her to return home.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2010
ISBN: 9780670021673
Branch Call Number: OLI
Characteristics: 364 p


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Feb 21, 2019

This is a very powerful book about a woman during the mid-1800s (and Civil War era) in the U.S. who wanted to become a doctor at a time when women were not considered suitable for the profession. Mary Sutter was not a real person but a compilation of 17 women who became doctors after the Civil War. The author did such a marvelous job of developing Mary's character that she seemed like a real person to me. The author, Robin Oliveira, clearly did a lot of research to write this richly woven book.

The book is about a woman's determination, how her family was torn apart in this time, how the medical field developed as a necessity after the war, and about the war itself and how woefully unprepared the North and Lincoln's generals were.

CatherineG_1 Jun 14, 2017

Mary Sutter wanted to be a doctor and more importantly, a surgeon. Her mother, Amelia was a famous midwife. After working with her from a young age, Mary knew she wanted more. The Civil War was started and life changed. Starting out as a "nurse" she soon became everything to everyone. As the author says, Mary is a combination of the first nurses and women doctors in America during these turbulent times.

The plot had so much potential but the writing was so trite it was a struggle to finish the book. As a Canadian I have little idea who the leaders in the civil war are and the write just throws out the names as though everyone knows who Lee, McDowell or Hay are. I do know Lincoln but the author's attempt to 'humanize' the leader by describing his angst about the boondoggle in the first years of the war is just mawkish. There was not enough background about Mary Dix, she floated into the story with little resolution, was she ultimately a liability? For the uninitiated, the history underpinning the plot was confusing.
Mary Sutter herself was an incomplete character. The tensions between Mary and her twin sister are trivial and the puritanical sensibilities of the characters are unrealistic when contrasted with the real work they did on the battle field. Yes it was a slaughter but the author' canvas was too broad and Mary's character was a throwback to something from my adolescence. ... "Nancy Drew goes to the civil war".

JCLHelenH Jul 02, 2013

Denied access to medical school, midwife Mary Sutter joins the war effort. There she endures the brutality and hopelessness of the civil war. Rich in period detail, I learned about aspects of the Civil War that are often overlooked.

Jul 30, 2012

A wonderful civil war story about a woman who wants to be a surgeon during a time when women had few choices in life or opportunities. Because of her determination, and the opportunity the war provided, Mary continues on her quest to become a surgeon. This is definitely a book worth reading.

Jul 26, 2012

Historical novel about a woman during the Civil War whose goal is to become a surgeon. Gritty details about the state of medicine, limitations placed on women, conditions for soldiers, and the impact of the war on families.

Jun 07, 2012

The age-old women’s issue of family vs. profession is dramatically played out against the Civil War, by a heroine so stubborn, so driven and so tender-hearted that readers cannot fail to be moved by her plight. Oliveira brings the savagery, the stink and the suffering of a brutal war to the fore as Mary learns what it really means to be a surgeon in abominable conditions, many times without the use of proper supplies or help. Nineteenth-century medicine is an eye-opener and a stomach-churner!

BPLNextBestAdults Jun 05, 2012

Take a step back in time and read the wonderful debut novel of Robin Oliveira. Mary Sutter is a young midwife in 1860s Albany, New York. Unlike her twin sister, she is spirited and strong-willed, and wants nothing more than to have her medical degree and practice medicine. No medical school will accept her so she leaves her home to travel to Washington, D.C. to nurse the sick and wounded of the Civil War. Her strength sees her through terrible living conditions and the horrors of war but she never gives up her dream of becoming a physician.
Compelling story of a time period where women were not taken seriously in the professional world and how one would not be stopped until her dream was realized.

May 26, 2012

A well written book about the
Civil War. For history fans who would "enjoy" experiencing this horrific part of the past without actually doing so. Many events are recreated with explainations of the people and places involved. Did not personally realize that the war was literally on the doorsteps of the White House. The main character is fictional, but many of the supporting characters were very real. Hard, very hard to imagine living through such barbaric and terrifing times.

Oct 31, 2011

Very good story and very interesting bit of Civil War history. I recommend this book as a good, easy read!

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