Book Review – My Name Is Mary Sutter

by Robin Oliveira (Penguin Books) R200 ISBN: 9781905490684

Mary Sutter is a midwife from Albany in 1861 who will leave no stone unturned to reach her goal: to become the first female surgeon in the United States. She faces prejudices against women in medicine and gets numerous rejections from professors not believing in her capacities.

When the man she loves chooses to marry her twin sister, Mary Sutter is devastated. She is determined to leave home and become a surgeon. She chooses a difficult path when she starts working as a nurse in the Civil War, ten years after Florence Nightingale’s mission in the Crimean War.

This debut by Robin Oliveira is well researched, and full of historical details, from midwifery in the 19th century, to the life of Abraham Lincoln and the suffering in the battlefields. Oliveira has managed to portray the life of a courageous young woman, without making the historical facts boring.

Stubborn, intelligent Mary will not allow you to forget what she did for generations of working women that followed her. Oliveira expressed hope that her book is a celebration of women who live to thrive and to strive. I think she has definitely succeeded.

Pauline Vijverberg

Buy the book here

Posted on: 6th November 2011