My Name Is Mary Sutter - Robin Oliveira
A story that combines feminist striving with Civil War history, My Name Is Mary Sutter (Viking, $26.95), by first-time novelist Robin Oliveira, is a lovely work. Mary Sutter, a privileged young woman from Albany, New York, trained as a midwife, wishes to become a surgeon. Rejected by medical school and rebuffed by a physician she wanted to work with, and having watched her beautiful sister win the affection of her friend Thomas, Mary leaves for Washington to work in a wartime hospital. There she observes Union forces woefully unprepared for battle carnage. Mary is proud and determined; apprenticing herself to the hospital doctors, she becomes an accomplished field physician. Oliveira has done great work recreating real events and real places, but the story is never weighed down by research. I found myself thinking about Mary long after I finished the book.