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My Name Is Mary Sutter: A Novel by Robin…
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My Name Is Mary Sutter: A Novel (edition 2010)

by Robin Oliveira

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
894719,875 (3.78)46
Member:tututhefirst
Title:My Name Is Mary Sutter: A Novel
Authors:Robin Oliveira
Info:Viking Adult (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:Audio books, Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:historical fiction, civil war

Work details

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

  1. 30
    The March by E. L. Doctorow (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Both novels show the medical side of the war, from the surgeon's and nurses points of view, albeit that the view in Mary Sutter is much grittier.
  2. 20
    The Dress Lodger by Sheri Holman (whymaggiemay)
    whymaggiemay: Both these books reminded me of how lucky I was to be born in the latter part of the 20th Century when medicine had been so greatly improved.
  3. 10
    Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  4. 00
    The Birth House by Ami McKay (saratoga99)
  5. 00
    The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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My Name is Mary Sutter – Robin Oliveira
3.5 stars round to 4 stars

It is 1861 and the eve of the American Civil War. Mary Sutter, skilled mid-wife, is determined to become a surgeon. This book is the story of her dogged determination to reach her goal despite the desperate devastation of the war and her own personal traumas. Mary Sutter comes from a line of mid-wives dating back to medieval France. She has a non-identical twin sister whose goals are as completely conventional as Mary’s are not. Oliviera paints a colorful picture of conditions in the North at the beginning of the war. As the story progresses we see the catastrophic consequences of lack of preparation, political infighting and sheer ignorance. Her description of Dr. Stipp’s first instruction manual amputation will stay with me for a long while.
There was so much potential in this book and Oliviera is obviously a skilled writer.
I was sadly left wanting so much more. At 360 pages the book simply could not deal adequately with the many powerful themes it touched. Gender roles, women’s suffrage, sibling rivalry, the balance of family and career; all of these issues deserved further exposition. Add to that the fascinating beginnings of medical research and germ theory which the book barely touched upon.

I suspect that my opinion of this book suffered from the fact that I’d recently read Cutting For Stone. Verghese’s book dealt with a different country, a different war and male twins not female, but his characters were not mere sketches. His book was structured to examine the difficult themes raised at the beginning and the ending provided a reasonable, hard fought resolution. I had no such sense of completion at the end of Mary Sutter. There just seemed to be whole chunks of back story left out.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
This Civil War novel about a woman who wanted to be a surgeon was very well researched and written, but I think it included entirely too much battle information and all the amputations were a little graphic for me. Overall I liked it, but I wish it was shorter. ( )
  Electablue | Apr 20, 2016 |
Mary, a talented midwife, wants more. She wants to be a surgeon. After being turned down by schools and surgeons, she travels to Washington, D.C. eager to find work in one of the many hospitals treating those wounded in the Civil War. Back home, her twin sister marries a man she once loved, and quickly becomes pregnant. Mary’s sister and mother beg her to return home, to deliver the new baby. Torn between the dying soldiers in the hospital and her sister, Mary is faced with an excruciating decision.

This was an interesting and engaging book. Mary was very realistic, and easy to like. I did thing that the book had too many points of view. They tended to distract from the story, rather than add to it. Overall, well worth picking up. I look forward to reading more from this author. ( )
  JanaRose1 | Apr 20, 2016 |
Mary Sutter is a mid-wife in Albany and was well known and respected for what she was able to accomplish. Her desire was to become a surgeon when there were no women physicians and admittance to a medical school was unheard of. She was an interesting character and I enjoyed her journey to become a surgeon.The first half of this book flowed smoothly and the character development was wonderful. I found the second half of the book rather difficult to follow - perhaps because I'm not familiar with the battles of the civil war. It was frustrating at times because I wanted certain things to happen which didn't. Her journey took many twists - some of the almost unbelievable. ( )
  MelAnnC | Feb 28, 2016 |
Fascinating book. I loved the details about the Civil War and the character development. For many people, there may be too many bloody, medical descriptions, but it's impressive and so pertinent to the story. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Drew, whose love and generosity never falter,
and for my mother,
who bequeathed me her muse
First words
"Are you Mary Sutter?"
Quotations
When they were younger, they played with the children of the laboring mother; when they were older, they hauled and boiled water, listened to birthing cries in houses high and low, becoming accustomed to joy being predicted on misery. This accounted for their assured nature; prescient, possessed, they would later feel at home anywhere and in the face of anything.
Mary unfurled was formidable and her family all knew it and, it seemed, sometimes despaired of it.
Mary inhaled the information her mother dispensed. Centuries of wisdom resided in Amelia's muscles. Often, when Mary asked questions, Amelia could not answer unless she was in the act itself, able to remember only as she performed. Instinct as textbook.
Mary could see him making the comparison, not unlike everyone else who ever heard the word twin in the presence of the two of them. The envy she thought she had mastered years ago opened inside her, swelling and pressing against her diaphragm, making it hard to breathe while she tallied which of her inadequacies stood out the most...
January of 1862, when Jenny was due, would be the busiest month for midwives in ten years. Farewell babies, they would be called. Three months later, in April, there would be another round of newborns nine months after Lincoln called for yet another hundred thousand men.
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Book description
Twenty-year-old Mary Sutter, a midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon, leaves her home in Albany, New York, and travels to Washington, D.C., where she is taken on as an assistant to chief surgeon William Stipp at a Union hospital, and earns his admiration and love.
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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.

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Audible.com

2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

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