Monday, May 17, 2010

Review: My Name is Mary Sutter & Giveaway

Summary: 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. -- Viking

Just when I thought I was getting a little tired of reading historical fiction, I discovered MY NAME IS MARY SUTTER by Robin Oliveira. I thought this book was fantastic! One of the reasons that I was so drawn to this book is that I have always been fascinated with the events surrounding the Civil War -- even as a child. I absolutely love reading stories that take place during this turbulent time in our country, and I think MY NAME IS MARY SUTTER just might be one of my new favorites.

MY NAME IS MARY SUTTER is the story of Mary Sutter, a young woman who desperately wants to become a surgeon. For years she has worked by her mother's side as a midwife; however, Mary aspires for more. Since no medical school will take her because she is a woman, Mary tries to learn everything she can from books. She even tries to get a doctor to take her under his wings and teach her to no avail. So she continues to work as a very successful midwife, and she doesn't give up. When war breaks out, Mary makes the choice to leave the comforts of her home to help the soldiers in any way possible -- and hopefully learn more about medicine in the process.

I absolutely loved Mary and I can promise you that she is a character that you will not soon forget. Mary is one of the most stubborn and persistent women that I've encountered in literature; however, she is also incredibly bright, strong and resilient. Mary is an extremely complex person and not without flaws, but I couldn't help but respect her intensity. While her perseverance was admirable at times, that same character trait managed to cause tremendous heartbreak for both Mary and her family. I found it extremely interesting to read about Mary's actions, and I enjoyed seeing how she evolved throughout this novel.

Although I thought Ms. Oliveira did a great job in creating Mary, there were also many other wonderfully developed characters in this story besides her. I thought the members of Mary's family were interesting, and I loved seeing their interactions with Mary (namely her mother and her twin sister.) And I really liked the two male doctors that Mary worked with. But I was especially impressed with how Ms. Oliveira portrayed the real-life characters in this novel. Dorothy Dix and a few of the military leaders weren't depicted in the best light (although it was most likely a pretty honest one); however, I thought she portrayed President Lincoln in a very likable (yet believable) manner.

At its heart, MY NAME IS MARY SUTTER is about Mary's incredible journey to become a doctor. It is not any easy road for her; and at times, I thought my heart would just break. Mary faces so many hardships from a lost love, to constant rejection, to tending to dying soldiers. And yet, I felt the book still left me with a feeling of hope. I don't want to include any spoilers, but I can definitely say that I was satisfied with the ending of this novel.

I was quite surprised that MY NAME IS MARY SUTTER is Ms. Oliveira's debut novel. I thought her writing was terrific and I also appreciated her character development. She truly is a gifted storyteller and her descriptions are so wonderfully detailed. But I was also extremely impressed with the amount of research she must have conducted while writing this novel. Obviously, she had to really learn about the people and events surrounding the Civil War, but she also wrote extensively about the medical care during that time period. I was honestly blown away by the amount of facts incorporated into this story. Ms. Oliveira managed to not only capture the essence of this time period, but she did a great job of incorporating the factual events with the fictional ones -- the true test of what makes historical fiction great! If you'd like to learn more about the background of this novel, check this out.

MY NAME IS MARY SUTTER would make a fantastic book club pick if your group enjoys reading historical fiction. It is a wonderful story, but I also think most people will appreciate how much they can learn from this novel. There is a reading guide available which has some wonderful and thought-provoking questions, but I also think you will come up with a lot more to talk about on your own. Some of the topics you might want to further explore include the effects of war, the role of women, family dynamics, sibling rivalry, love, grief, and forgiveness.

I highly recommend MY NAME IS MARY SUTTER for anyone who enjoys historical fiction or enjoys reading books about the Civil War. As you can clearly tell, I just loved this book and can't stop thinking about it!

And here's the exciting news! I'm thrilled to announce that the publisher has graciously offered to giveaway two copies of NY NAME IS MARY SUTTER! To enter, just leave a comment (with a valid email address) telling me why you want to read this book. The contest will be open until Sunday, May 30th at 11:59 p.m. ET, and I will notify the winner the following day. This contest is open to those of you with a U.S. mailing address only. Good Luck!

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this novel.


Anonymous said...

I love historical fiction and after seeing your review, I know I need to read this one!

Thanks for hosting the giveaway. :)

nnjmom at yahoo dot com

Amy said...

I didn't love this one quite as much as you did, though I did really enjoy parts of it, particularly the parts that had to do with Mary and her family. :)

Patty said...

This book sounds fascinating...thanks for your precise review!!!

Diane said...

I am so jealous you got to read/review this one. Excellent review; thanks

I'd love to win a copy Julie:

Bibliophilebythesea AT gmail DOT com

Tore said...

I would love to read a copy of this book. It shows what women went through then to do the same jobs as men. It sound very good and interesting. Please enter me in contest. Thank you.

Linda said...

I'm a devoted fan of historical fiction, and the American Civil War is a favorite era to read about. Thanks so much for the giveaway.

Jennifer said...

I adore historical fiction, strong woman and this sounds like it would suit me well. Thank you for the great review and hosting the giveaway.

knittingmomof3 (AT) gmail (DOT) com

bermudaonion said...

I love to read about strong women, so this book sounds good to me. Please enter me. milou2ster(at)

Tea said...

I want to read My Name is Mary Sutter so badly. I loved your review. I want to read My Name is Mary Sutter for more than one reason. For some reason, I love her name. I feel like I already know her because of her name. I also love to read about the Civil War period. I can't imagine having such a big dream or goal, becoming a surgeon, during this period in American History. I also like it because I want to know about her "lost love." I think that's how you described it. It must have been heart breaking.
Thanks for entering me in the contest.


Anonymous said...

I want to read this book because I loved your review :) *Thanks* for the giveaway!

Katrina said...

I love the whole storyline and I think this would be a book I could really enjoy. Thanks for the chance!

ykatrina at hotmail dot com

ruthhill74 said...

I absolutely love reading historical fiction, and it is better when it is about women who overcame the odds.

katsrus said...

After reading your review this books sounds like a great read. Would love to have a chance to win.
Sue B

(Diane) bookchickdi said...

I enjoy historical fiction, especially Civil War fiction, and I like fiction that weaves in historical people with the characters. (My all-time fav book is GONE WITH THE WIND.)

Great job with the review, thanks for the opportunity. I'd love to win a copy.


Kathy (mommysreading) said...

I love historical fiction, especially when there is such a likable woman as the main character. I would love to read this and will suggest it to my book club.

Thank you for the giveaway,
kathy at dassaro dot net

Goldie said...

Frazier's "Cold Mountain" is one of my favorite books - and this book was compared to that. Sounds like a great book to add to the collection at my library (after I read it, of course...)

Goldie said...

my e-mail is

Sandra K321 said...

I also enjoy historical fiction, especially from the Civil War era. I would enjoy reading this. Having been the only female in almost all of my college engineering courses, I can probably understand Mary's desire to study what you enjoy, not what people expect you to.

Jenny Girl said...

Great review as ususal Julie.

I would like to read this book because I enjoy reading stories about women in medicine, especially those pioneers that tried against all odds to become a physician, let alone a surgeon. Even today, it is extremely tough to be a female surgeon. Don't let Grey's Anatomy mislead you.

This book also remind me of a great Southern epic.

Thanks for the contest.


traveler said...

Thanks for thisl lovely giveaway which sounds wonderful. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Jo-Jo said...

I love historical fiction and enjoy reading about strong women...who can pass up a combination like that?
joannelong74 AT gmail DOT com

melissa @ 1lbr said...

Tough woman from the Civil War era? Yes please! I was a little disappointed with the last book I read about the Civil War, so I'm ready for something better.


Anonymous said...

I love historical fiction and this one sounds like a good one :-)

Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

radiancef11 at aol dot com

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I want to read this book because I love the time period and because it sort of sounds like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman! :--)

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Stacie said...

I love historical fiction and have been reading a lot of it lately. It would be nice to read something on the Civil War since I haven't. Thanks for the giveaway!

Laura said...

I really enjoyed your review. This is definitely a must-read! I love historical fiction.

jlwelser (at) ymail (dot) come

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

No need to enter me, my friend. I'm dropping in to say thanks for the e-mail. I've got this posted at Win a Book for you.

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

When i read the premise of this book, it reminded me a little of Louisa May Alcott's service as a nurse in Washington DC during the Civil War.
I would LOVE to win a copy.

Melanie said...

I bet my book club would love this book. They love reaading books where they learn something. And we've read several set during the civil war and had good discussions.

LAMusing said...

I'm a huge fan of historical fiction. Also intriguing that the central character is a woman trying to create her dream in a "man's world". Hmmm... not much has changed, huh?


J.T. Oldfield said...

I'd love to read this book because I really like historical fiction when it's well done.


enyl said...

I'm already thinking of ways to incorporate this title into my curriculum.

Cindy W. said...

Great review. I'm a big fan of historical fiction and would love to win My Name is Mary Sutter.

Thank you for this giveaway.

Cindy W.


Kansas Mom said...

I would love to win this book!

Kristen said...

I'd love to win this one. The primitiveness of medicine during the Civil War fascinates me and the idea of a woman achieving by hard work what so many men just sort of stumbled into at the time piques my interest.

whitreidsmama at yahoo dot com

karenk said...

enjoyed your review...thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous book :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Amused said...

Thanks for offering another great giveaway! I love historical fiction, especially ones set during the Civil War so sign me up please!

karenk said...

enjoyed your review...thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous novel.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Mystica said...

Strong women and historical fiction. Nice mix. Please count me in.

Thank you for hosting.


Anonymous said...

I'm always looking for a good, new read and I especially like historical fiction. If it is as good as "Enemy Women" then I'll be very happy!

Arch said...

Please enter me for this giveaway... The summary and your review of the book is quite interesting... I love books which are based with the war as a backdrop... I feel such books portray strong characters. Also, being a woman myself, I like to read books which shows a woman making it big in life and achieving her dreams despite all the odds.



JHS. said...

Stubborn and persistent? She sounds like me! Seriously, I love to read books about women who are or become empowered & accomplish great things.


admin at jhsiess dot com

Karlie said...

I love historical fiction, but I have never read about the Civil War. Sounds like a great read!

Sunny @ the Library said...

Sunny(nospace)Lea[at]gmail(dot)com would love to read a copy.

Love historical fiction -- it's my favorite genre!

Debi said...

I love strong and determined women. I would love to read this book. Hopefully I will enjoy it as much as you did. Thank you!

debraldufek AT hotmail DOT com

Jenna said...

Id love to read this!... Im obsessed with reading books about local areas (Im only 2 hours away from Albany)and historical fiction in general.


Shannon said...

I've heard so many good things about this book. Thank you for entering me. =)

tiredwkids at live dot com

Carol M said...

I love reading stories taking place during the Civil War and this one sounds really good!
mittens0831 at aol dot com

Pricilla said...

Thank you.
I love historical tales of women doing things out of the scope of the norm for the times.
kaiminani at gmail dot com

Margie said...

A story about an independent, intelligent woman during the Civil War era sounds very fascinating.
mtakala1 AT yahoo DOT com

degood said...

I love historical fiction so this would make an excellent book to read on one of those lazy days of summer.

Mirella Sichirollo Patzer said...

This is my favourite kind of novel - about women in history who forged through no matter the obstacles.

We often struggle in modern times to achieve our goals, but we live in a society where sometimes, the goals can be achieved.

But in days of yore, when social values and rules of society were so stringent, womenn who broke through truly deserve our thanks.

I've written brief bios about women surgeons/doctors before and I can appreciate the strugggles and the glory of what they achieved.

Congratulations on your book. It is important that stories like yours don't go untold.

Mirella Patzer
queenmirella at yahoo dot ca

teabird said...

I'd love to read this! Thank you for the giveaway -

teabird17 atyahoodotcom

Gwendolyn B. said...

I love the way as a reader I get to experience history when I read historical fiction. I'm become fascinated by how women, nature's original caregivers, have had to struggle to be accepted and respected as physicians. Thanks for the chance to win a copy of this book - I'm dying to read it!

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Beth said...

I'd love to win this since I really enjoy historical fiction and would like to try a new author.

BethsBookReviewBlog AT gmail DOT com

elizabeth said...

I always feel magnitized toward reading historical fiction. This sounds like a story my book club would appreciate.
Thanks for the opportunity for a copy!

Steve Capell said...

I found your review to be intriguing and one that I think I would take pleasure in reading. Thank you so much for hosting this giveaway.


Jolee said...

Sounds very interesting. Thanks for the giveaway. I love historical fiction. joleehamlin at comcast dot net

Chris said...

This is on my must read list win or lose.

Jill said...

Looks like a great summer read for historical fiction lovers like me!

j4fortner at att dot net

Tracy said...

I would love to win this book. I enjoy reading historical fiction!
tramcdermott at yahoo dot com

grannyvon said...

I love this type of woman fiction and would love to win this book. Thanks

misskallie2000 said...

I love historical fiction and when a women is struggling to get to a special place in her life, that makes the book very special.
Loved your review.

Thanks for hosting this giveaway and pls count me in..

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

what a terrific review. I would really like to meet Mary. Please enter me in the giveaway.

Marie said...

I love historical fiction and have heard great things about this book. Please enter me. Thanks.


Diane said...

This sounds wonderful! I have this on my wish list. I would LOve a chance to win:

bibliophilebythesea AT gmail DOT com

Anita Yancey said...

I'd like to read this book because I enjoy reading about the Civil War. This book sounds like my type of read. Please enter me. Thanks!


Deb said...

Wow! After reading your review, I am looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for the chance for this book, and keep reviewing!

Kristen said...

I like stories about strong, determined people who work for what they want!

couponboss at gmail dot com

Kristi said...

I like reading historical fiction - especially American history - and with Mary as a strong determined woman - that is a plus!

kherbrand at comcast dot net

Anonymous said...

I have loved books about nurses since my Mom bought me my first Cherry Ames books. I love those books so much I went to nursing school and was disappointed it wasnt like it was in the books.

A Musing Mother said...

Because I am a bookaholic and I love historical fiction.

Oh, and I secretly love to smell a new book.

Oh. No longer a secret.

Oh, crap.

ntaylor228 at yahoo dot com

Tore said...

I love all kinds of books and enjoy reading historical fiction. This book sound very interesting. Please enter me in contest.

Aik said...

I'm a fan of historical fiction.

aikychien at yahoo dot com

Sarah E said...

I want to read this book because I love novels set during the Civil War era.

Please enter me in this giveaway!

saemmerson at yahoo dot com

Sarah E

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

I just finished had to add my thoughts...I thought it was a little slow to develop, but once she made her way to DC, the book really skyrocketed! I thought the author did an amazing job mixing truth and fiction -- characters and real life personas.

Now I want to know what happens to Mary and Dr Stipp??!!!

goecker said...

A friend just told my about this wonderful book this week - I enjoy historical fiction too such as Francine Rivers and Jane Kirkpatrick books.