Thursday, September 22

Book Review: My Name is Mary Sutter

Title: My Name is Mary Sutter

Author: Robin Oliveira

Pages: 364

Summary: Mary Sutter is a brilliant young midwife who dreams of becoming surgeon. Determined to overcome the prejudices against woman in medicine - and eager to runaway from recent heartbreak - Mary travels to Washington D.C, to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of two surgeons, who both fall unwittingly in love with her, and resisting her mother's pleas to return home and help with the difficult birth of her twin sisters baby, Mary pursues hr medical career against all odds. Rich with historical detail - including cameo appearances of Abraham Lincoln and Dorothea Dix, among others - and introducing a heroine whose unwavering determination and vulnerability will resonate with readers everywhere, My Name is Mary Sutter is certain to be recognized as one of the greatest novels of the Civil War.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: While I enjoyed the detailed account of the civil war; the effects on the families and those who worked on the front lines to save the lives of the soldiers, I found the characters to be flat, underdeveloped and ineffective to make this go from a good story to an excellent one.

This particular story doesn't focus on the fighting as much as it focuses on what happens to those who come back injured, the people who save try them and the conditions they had to work with. While there were some scenes focusing on the front line, the story was heavily focused on those who worked to save the soldiers lives. One of my favourite scenes in the book was Mary racing along the front line, in the aftermath of a battle as she tries to save as many she can, with little supplies. But I wasn't a fan of how the author explained some of the midwifery procedures and the story line with Mary's family and sister weren't well developed, it felt it was brought in as an afterthought, and didn't flow with the rest of the story.

I also had a few issues with Mary, along with the other characters. Mary was suppose to be passionate about wanting to become a surgeon, and although she was constantly striving to become one, I didn't feel it on an emotional level from her. She said it constantly, her actions showed it, but there was no emotion from her to really show how she worked for her dream. I found the same from the other characters, and the romantic relationships between all the characters was no existent. There was nothing believable about them being romantically involved and for the most part, the story would have been just fine without them. The author had a very strong historical fiction, I wish that was more emphasized.

Would I recommend it to read: From a historical fiction point of view I would, as this was a well done historical fiction. But the characters weren't that developed, which took away from the story of Mary rising above social constructs.

What to read next: The Birth House, The Heart Specialist

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, War Through the Generations - Civil War


  1. I think I might have liked this one a bit more than you did, but I can really see and understand your points. Now that I am looking back, I do agree that Mary was a little flat when it came to her emotional outlook, but I hadn't considered the fact that the other characters were flat. I really liked all the medical drama in this book, and felt that that was a strong point. I did feel like there was one scene where it was just too much though! Very thoughtful and balanced review, Jules. I enjoyed reading and thinking about it!

  2. I have been a bit curious about this book for a while, but still haven't decided if I would like it or not.

  3. Zibilee - It's funny how books affect people so differently. I found some of the midwife scenes were - described wrong, not overly graphic, just not what I'd expect.

    Kailana - I have a few books like that, it's always worth giving it a shot, because you never know.

  4. I'm worried about the flat characters, but I think I'd like to give this one a try at some point. Your review will be featured on War Through the Generations on Nov. 11. Thanks for participating!


  5. Anna and Serena - Yes the characters are flat, but because you enjoy war time fiction I think you would like the book. Thanks for the feature.