My Name is Mary Sutter (Review & Giveaway)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Title: My Name is Mary Sutter
Author: Robin Oliveira
Pages: 364
Genre: Historical Fiction (civil war era)
Publisher: Viking (Penguin Group)
Release Date: May 17, 2010

My Name is Mary Sutter has garnered immense buzz in the publishing industry and blogosphere alike. And it deserves it. Though this is her debut, Robin Oliveira expertly depicts the story of young and ambitious Mary Sutter who wants nothing more than to work as a surgeon. Though the war necessitates nurses and surgeons in large numbers, Mary continues to encounter obstacles, be it for her gender or even her age.

This was truly a powerful book with a strong female lead. Like many similar characters, Mary is admirable for her ambitions and headstrong personality. But Oliveira did a wonderful job of portraying Mary as a genuine character with flaws and her own doubts as well. Mary questions her abilities at times but is always aware of her desires. Love triangle exist but they add to the characters rather than attempt to manipulate the readers' emotions.

Regarding the civil war aspect, Oliveira transported the reader there through the detailed use of her research. You'll probably read, in any review you see, about the extensive research she did. This is because the complete atmosphere of the novel revolves around the war and its events, and the author includes so much information it's astounding. BUT, and of course there's a but, though I admire the research the author did, it's probably the part that brought the book down a notch for me. Some people truly will enjoy reading this part (and did, as evidenced by their reviews), but I'm not a fan of fiction that includes much about the actual war itself. I enjoy historical fiction novels and those that take place in times of war, but reading about the actual war itself bores me. So I did somewhat glaze over during these parts. It's just a personal issue regarding my preferences.

But probably the thing that I did enjoy the most about this novel was Oliveira's skill with words. The writing itself was so beautiful; I couldn't help but feel like, if nothing else, reading this was a lesson in manipulating words. I wanted to include a couple quotes. This first quote is during a an argument betwen Mary and her mother after quite an intense moment has taken place.

Cold gripped the house, entombing them. The fire flickered, cowering before the elements. Shouting at one another was a divide across which they had never before ventured. Even so, Mary longed for Amelia to scream on. Anger was the salve, the bond, the cement. The only remedy to the unacceptable breach. (pg. 250)

This second quote is during a moment when President Lincoln is reflecting on the war.

Lincoln simply could not understand a man who could not see his own fallibility. Irony lost in the blind pursuit of cacophonous righteousness. I wish to be free, but
you may not be free. What he hated most was that they would not see the inherent cruelty in their economy. Their slaves' skin might be black, but it was not as black as the souls who might enslave them.

Contradiction the rule of the land. Right and wrong were as interchangeable these days, it seemed, as the winds, and yet here was one concrete thing he could achieve, would achieve before the end, whenever that came. (pg. 315)

My Name is Mary Sutter is a wonderful read for those enjoy historical fiction and the civil war.


I have a GIVEAWAY of one copy of this book thanks to the publisher.
To enter the giveaway, you must be a follower of this blog through google friend connect or be a subscriber. Just fill out the form below to enter. The giveaway will go through May 31, and the winner will be announced June 1, 2010.


Juju at Tales of said...

Awesome review. The writing does sound beautiful :)

Zibilee said...

No need to enter me, as I am going to be reading this one soon. Wonderful review, I am so glad you enjoyed the book. I am really looking forward to it!!

Mary (Bookfan) said...

Nice review, Jenny. I'm seeing a lot of good things about it this week.
Also want to let you know I received Hannah's List today. Thank you for hosting the giveaway!

Gwendolyn B. said...

Nice review - I like your honesty regarding reading about the war. Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

Jenny said...

Juju -- it definitely is!

Heather -- Hope you like it!

Mary -- Yay I'm glad you got it!

Gwen -- I put the disclaimer that it was just me b/c I know some people actually really like that! It wasn't a bad on the author's part at all.

Lynne said...

Thanks for the chance to win this I saw Laura Bush speak last night at our local library about her book. One of the questions the audience asked was "What are you reading right now" and she said "My Name is Mary Sutter..and it's really good; you should read it." I've heard a lot of other people saying good things about it too, so I look forward to it. Again, thanks for the chance.

Sandee61 said...

I'd love to read this book! Please enter me in your giveaway. Thank you. Ever since I saw the cover of this book, I've been dying to read it.



Allie ~ Hist-Fic Chick said...

Great review, Jenny! I really like the cover of this book, too. I haven't read too many books that take place during the Civil War (seen plenty of movies, though), but one about a female surgeon certainly sounds like something I'd enjoy. I may have to pick this one up next time I'm in the bookstore - the cover is really nice.

Jenny said...

Lynne -- haha, that's so cool that she's reading it now!

Allie -- You'll probably like it as long as you don't mind talk directly related to the war too.

Nicola said...

Please enter me. I'm a new follower. I've been wanting this book ever since I first saw it!

karenk said...

this book is on my 'wish list' thanks for the chance to read it.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

misskallie2000 said...

I love historical fiction and when the heroine is struggling to make her life as she wants it to be I can't help but admire her. Women had to work so hard to be accepted in this era (and earlier) and I admire all those women that were able to accomplish their dream. I have this on my wish list.
Thanks for hosting this great giveaway and pls enter me.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Cindy W. said...

Great review. I love historicals...especially set during the Civil War. I would love to win this book. Thank you for the opportunity.

Cindy W.


JHS. said...

This is on my wish list.


admin at jhsiess dot com

Diane said...

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

bibliophilebythesea AT gmail DOT com

Sandra K321 said...

I love Civil War historical fiction. Please enter me.

Debi said...

Please enter me I am a new follower on Google Reader. Thanks

debraldufek AT hotmail DOT com

karenk said...

forgot to mention that i'm an email subscriber :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Esme said...

THis sounds great-I hope you had a wonderful time at BEA-it was quite fun.

SmallWorld at Home said...

Great review--I've linked to your review.

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