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2 Beaverton Literature- A to Z
1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

My Name Is Mary Sutter

by

My Name Is Mary Sutter Cover

ISBN13: 9780670021673
ISBN10: 0670021679
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
All Product Details

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Excerpt

"Are you Mary Sutter?" Hours had passed since James Blevens had called for the midwife. All manner of shouts and tumult drifted in from the street, and so he had answered the door to his surgery rooms with some caution, but the young woman before him made an arresting sight: taller and wider than was generally considered handsome, with an unflattering hat pinned to an unruly length of curls, though an enticing brightness about the eyes compensated. "Mary Sutter, the midwife?" he asked.

"Yes, I am Mary Sutter." The young woman looked from the address she had inscribed that afternoon in her small, leather-bound notebook to the harried man in front of her, wondering how he could possibly know who she was. He was all angles, and his sharp chin gave the impression of discipline, though his uncombed hair and unbuttoned vest were damp with sweat.

"Oh, thank God," he said, and catching her by the elbow, pulled her inside and slammed the door shut on the cold April rain and the stray warble of a bugle in the distance. James Blevens knew Mary Sutter only by reputation. She is good, even better than her mother, people said. Now, he formed an indelible impression of attractiveness, though there was nothing attractive about her. Her features were far too coarse, her hair far too wild and already beginning to silver. People said she was young, but you could not tell that by looking at her. She was an odd one, this Mary Sutter.

A kerosene lantern flickered in the late afternoon dimness, revealing shelves of medical instruments: scales, tensile prongs, hinged forceps, monoral and chest stethoscopes, jars of pickled fetal pigs, ether stoppered in azure glass, a femur bone stripped in acid, a human skull, a stomach floating in brine, jars of medicines, an apothecary's mortar and pestle. Mary could barely tear her eyes from the bounty.

"She is here, at last," the man said over his shoulder. Mary Sutter peered into the darkness and saw a young woman lying on an exam table, a blanket thrown across her swollen belly, betraying the unmistakable exhaustion of late labor.

"Yes, yes," he said, waving her question away with irritation. "Didn't my boy send you here?"

"No. I came to see you on my own. Are you Doctor Blevens?"

"Of course I am."

Now that her chance had come, Mary felt almost shy, the humiliation of her afternoon rearing up, along with the anger that had propelled her here, looking for a last chance.

"Doctor Blevens, I came here today-" Mary stopped and exhaled. All the hope of the past year spilled over as she stumbled over her words. "Today I sat in the lobby of the medical college for four hours waiting for Doctor Marsh, and he didn't even have the courtesy to see me." Mary shut out the memory of her afternoon spent in the unwelcoming misery of the Albany Medical College, where after several hours the corpulent clerk had finally hissed, Doctor Marsh no longer wishes to receive letters of application from you, so you are to respectfully desist in any further petition.

"When he refused to see me, I decided to come and ask something of you," Mary said.

"Would you mind asking me later?" Blevens asked, propelling Mary toward the young woman. "I need your help. This is Bonnie Miles. Her husband dropped her here early this afternoon. He said she has lost a child before-her first. I think the baby's head is stuck."

Mary pulled off her gloves and unwrapped her shawl, her quest forgotten for the moment, all her attention focused on the woman's exhaustion and youth. Bonnie was small-boned, tiny in all her features, too young, Mary thought, perhaps fifteen, maybe seventeen.

She resembled Jenny. It was something about the way she spoke, the shape of her lips against her teeth. It was then that Mary knew she had to guard against the resemblance, for her antipathy to her sister might cause her to be unkind toward this girl who needed her.

"My last one died," Bonnie said, whispering, drawing Mary close to her, her face transforming from a feverish daze to one of grief.

"I beg your pardon?"

"The baby before this," Bonnie said, her eyes half-closed. "I didn't know it was labor I was taken with, you see?"

The ignorance! It was exactly like Jenny. But Jenny's ignorance was something altogether different, a refusal to engage, to exert herself. A lack of curiosity.

Outside, above the street clatter of carriages and vendors came the hard clang of the fire bell, and cries of "On to the South!"

Blevens rushed to the window and threw it open as Mary whispered to Bonnie not to worry. The rising strains of a band joined the bugle, producing a festive, off tune march that beckoned like a piper. A swelling crowd hurried along the turnpike, shoulders and wool hats bent against the rain. In the distance the flat pop of gunfire sounded.

"You there! Hello? Can you give me the news?" Blevens cried.

A man who had stopped to don an oilskin looked up, revealing a slick, battered face, pocked, the doctor was certain, at the ironworks where the spitting metal often scarred workers' faces.

"Haven't you heard?" the man shouted. "The Carolinians fired on Fort Sumter!"

"Has Lincoln called for men?" the doctor asked, but the scarred man melted into the stream of revelers pushing down the muddy turnpike toward the music as if something were reeling them in. James Blevens slammed down the window and turned.

"I cannot believe it," he said. "It is war."

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

mgreiner1, March 12, 2012 (view all comments by mgreiner1)
Persistence, passion, and determination are more important than beauty and wealth in this novel of the Civil War, and a woman who will not be stopped in her quest to become a doctor. A great read. Can't wait for more from Robin Oliveira.
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FleurDeMar, February 21, 2011 (view all comments by FleurDeMar)
My Name is Mary Sutter is set during the Civil War and tells the story of a strong willed woman who wants to be a surgeon in a time women aren’t allowed near the profession. She works as a midwife, along with her mother, but it’s just not enough. Mary isn’t like other heroines you read about in books – she’s not beautiful, can’t get any man she wants and has to work hard to achieve her goals. I found it refreshing for a change.

As always, when I read Historical Fiction, I look for the actual history and am pleased that this book had it. Lincoln is someone I haven’t read a lot about, so I’m not sure of the accuracy of his character, but I liked him anyway. Reading about the hospitals, wounded, dying and lack of supplies was heartbreaking.

One thing I will say is that the book is very graphic. From Mary delivering a child to her amputating limbs, Robin Oliveira goes into great detail and it can sometimes get gory. In that aspect, the book may not be for the faint at heart. However, if you can skim over those parts, I think you’ll still enjoy the book.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
47Rah1980, January 17, 2011 (view all comments by 47Rah1980)
A masterful, wonderful, enriching read. The setting and characters all come alive in Robin Oliveira's debut novel. I was transported in time, thrown into the battlefields and onto the streets of Washington City. I traveled the trains to Albany and was frozen by the daunting task of "choosing" with Mary. The parallel with Lincoln and his decision-making along with Mary and hers, added depth to an already complex story.

As a physician, I appreciated the accuracy of the medical care of the time and the attention to detail. Mary was a very believable character as were her desires and journey. I remember being just as focused 30 years ago trying to get into medical school - and like Mary, family and friends came a distant second to the goal. I would say this book should be "required reading" in medical schools across the country so that we physicians learn about our past and how we take current "knowledge" as truth.

What I appreciate about this novel is that months after reading it, I continue to think about the characters, the history of the time and just want more. The dozen or so novels I have read since do not compare in terms of "staying with me". Some novels I forget upon closing the cover yet I still think of Mary Sutter.

I love a complex read with real characters & multiple subplots that knows what it is about and carries the reader through to a satisfying end. I certainly cannot wait for the next such novel by this wonderfully gifted author.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780670021673
Author:
Oliveira, Robin
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Author:
Hepinstall, Kathy
Author:
Farr, Kimberly
Author:
Becky Hepinstall Hilliker
Author:
Hepinstall Hilliker, Becky
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
United States - History - Civil War, 1861-
Subject:
General
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Cloth
Publication Date:
20150303
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb
Age Level:
17-17

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Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

My Name Is Mary Sutter Used Hardcover
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Product details 256 pages Viking Books - English 9780670021673 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Mary Sutter is a brilliant, headstrong midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon in 19th-century America. Determined to overcome the prejudices against women in medicine, Mary leaves home and travels to Washington, D.C., to pursue her medical career.
"Synopsis" by ,
Amid the ravages of the Civil War, two sisters join the Confederate Army disguised as men—one seeking vengeance for her husbands death, the other hoping to keep them both alive but then finding love on the battlefield.
"Synopsis" by ,
A New York Times bestseller and a moving Civil War novel about a young midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon
 
Fans of Calebs Crossing by Geraldine Brooks, Cold Mountainby Charles Frazier, and Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini will love this New York Times bestselling tale of the Civil War. Mary Sutter is a brilliant young midwife who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Eager to run away 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 to help with the difficult birth of her twin sister's baby, Mary pursues her medical career against all odds. Rich with historical detail-including cameo appearances by Abraham Lincoln and Dorothea Dix, among others-My Name Is Mary Sutter is certain to be recognized as one of the great novels about the Civil War.
"Synopsis" by ,
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.

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