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by Vanessa Matthews

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The Doctor's Daughter is a compelling read. At first, I thought it would focus largely on Marta's dysfunctional relationship with her misogynistic father, renowned psychiatrist Arnold Rosenblit, but slowly came to realize that there was much more to this well-crafted story.

I was intrigued by Dr. Rosenblit's studies:

"Tonight we shall examine the topic of gender. New research has come out of America that suggests one's gender identity may not be an issue of biology alone, but psychology too. I am eager to establish my own study and measure the perception of gender against the imposition of societal norms." He goes on to say, "...what if gender is little more than social phenomenon?" And, "What if our sexed bodies are not as essential to our construction of gender roles as we might believe?"

However, Rosenblit's arrogance and disrespect towards Marta caused me to dislike him throughout most of the novel:

"You have a brilliant mind my daughter, of that I have no doubt. However, you are a disciple. You are not a leader. Women, even intelligent ones, are not destined to lead...Perhaps your ideas are early manifestations of mental illness. Have you ever wondered if you are not in your right mind? Delusions of grandeur; yes that's what they call it, or I suppose it could be megalomania."

Marta, on the other hand, is a character that I was pulling for throughout. She's plain in comparison to her sisters who've all been married off (sort of the outcast of the family), but she also possesses the intelligence to be deemed useful to her father. However, Marta has other plans--aspirations beyond being her father's lackey. She dreams of making a name for herself in the world of psychology.

Enter Dr. Leopold Kaposi (a colleague of Dr. Rosenblit) and Elise Saloman, an aspiring pediatrician. Kaposi recognizes Marta's intelligence and entices her to work with him, unbeknownst to her father. This is where the story takes a suspenseful turn. Does Kaposi have Marta's best interests in mind? Or does he have ulterior motives? With the help of Elise, whose interest in befriending Marta is unknown until near the end of the story, Marta is faced with several tragic and life-changing realizations.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Doctor's Daughter and look forward to reading more from Matthews. ( )
  KJFarnham | Oct 10, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 184914737X, Paperback)

A prominent psychiatrist's daughter realises insanity can be found much closer to home when she unlocks secrets from the past that threaten to destroy her future.

It's 1927, women have the right to vote and morals are slackening, but 23-year-old Marta Rosenblit is not a typical woman of her time. She has little connection with her elder sisters, her mother has been detained in an asylum since Marta was born and she has spent her life being shaped as her father Arnold's protégé. She is lost, unsure of who she is and who she wants to be. Primarily set in Vienna, this dark tale follows her journey of self-discovery as she tries to step out of her father's shadow and find her identity in a man's world. Her father's friend Dr Leopold Kaposi is keen to help her make her name, but his interest is not purely professional and his motivations pose greater risks than she could possibly know. Marta's chance encounter in a café leads to a new friendship with young medical graduate Elise Saloman, but it soon turns out that Elise has some secrets of her own. When Marta's shock discovery about her family story coincides with her mother's apparent suicide, Marta can't take anymore. Nobody she has grown to love and trust is who they seem. Her professional plans unravel, her relationships are in tatters and her sanity is on the line - and one person is behind it all.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 12 Jul 2015 23:37:57 -0400)

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