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My Name is Mary Sutter

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  16,484 Ratings  ·  2,337 Reviews
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 t
Hardcover, 364 pages
Published May 13th 2010 by Viking (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I was trying to rally some friends to go with me to an event by this author. No one was interested, which puzzled me. “You have to come! Civil War books are awesome!” One guy was particularly reluctant. “But we can read it together! Civil War books are the best!” He admitted that he have not read any Civil War novels and seemed uncomfortable. At which point, it occurred to me that I myself haven’t read many Civil War books.* But I forged ahead like a robot. “Civil War books are great!” He asked ...more
Apr 17, 2012 Lyndz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lyndz by: Ann
Shelves: reviewed
I am feeling a bit torn about how I feel about My Name is Mary Sutter. On the one hand I love a book with a strong-willed female protagonist – and this definitely had that. On the other hand, war books are hard for me to emotionally stomach – since I have a brother in the Army.

My Name is Marry Sutter is about an able-bodied young midwife who, during the American Civil war, is trying to fulfill a life-long ambition to become a doctor, more specifically a surgeon. She faces disappointment and sexi
Set in Albany New York during the American Civil War in the 1860's, Mary Sutter is a renowned and respected midwife. However, her fascination with medicine doesn't end there and she dreams of maybe, someday becoming a surgeon, an almost impossible ambition for a woman of that era. Mary is repeatedly turned down for admission to numerous medical schools for simply being a woman. When Dorothea Dix persuades Abraham Lincoln to allow her to recruit a band of female nurses to serve alongside the army ...more
Jun 03, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
Recommended to Carol by: Judy Morganroth
Most of my GR friends rated this 3 star. Most did not comment so I'm not certain what kept them from giving My Name is Mary Sutter a higher rating. A solid 4 for me. Length and a bit too much war kept it from a 5 star rating though that might not be entirely fair. After all this is as much a story of the men of the Civil War as it is historical fiction of a determined young woman with aspirations of becoming a surgeon. The war is a perfect backdrop for this as where else might Mary have achieved ...more
Engrossing read, rich with historical detail, My Name is Mary Sutter tells the story of a woman determined to be a surgeon and how the Civil War gives her the chance to enter the male-dominated medical field.

While I think it's high time the North had an answer to the high-spirited and strong-willed Scarlett O'Hara, Mary Sutter is not quite it. She is determined (although it's never made quite clear why, and her desire waxes and wanes oddly) but she's not as likable (or as unlikeable) as Scarlet
Jul 15, 2010 Nicole rated it liked it
My name is Mary Sutter is a book centered in Upstate New York and Washington during the civil war.
I am prefacing this review with the statement that I have read little Historical fiction to which romance was not a major factor in the story. This book is not one of those.
The book is extremely well written and I enjoyed the author’s style greatly. I learned a lot from the book and I learned to love both Mary and the other players in the story.
I could have done without the viewpoint of the Presi
Nov 06, 2011 Pam rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This Civil War story was good for its historical information and insight about what it could have been like in the trenches of that war (there are some graphic scenes). The story centered around a young woman's quest to become a surgeon during this time. While her perseverance in pursuing her dreams against all odds was admirable, I needed more from her character in order to connect with her. And because of that, I didn't connect very well with the love story either. It is possible that a fan of ...more
Mar 20, 2015 Michael rated it did not like it
I am a huge fan of Historical fiction but this has got to be one of the most boring books I read. I could not even get past the initial pages, it just read like a bad monologue between characters, absolutely no desire to care what happens to any character. The entire time I was asking myself, why should I care who is Mary Sutter? As far as I am concerned she was an undeveloped character that I soon ditched after I got to know her.

Oh well interesting plot but failed to deliver.

Kris Irvin
Feb 01, 2012 Kris Irvin rated it did not like it
Shelves: bad-books, 2012
This is the type of book that I should have LOVED. Takes place in the Civil War era, which I used to obsessed with. Main character is a strong-willed woman who wants to be a doctor more than anything. Yep. Guess what?

This book sucks.

It is so incredibly slow. The war doesn't even start until halfway through the novel. We focus on 3.5 different main characters at random times and in random places. At one point the story veers away from Mary for several chapters, and you are left to wonder ... wh
Tara Chevrestt
This is a good book, just not great. Mary Sutter is a young lady in a country on the verge of a civil war. She is also an excellent midwife and has the preposterous idea that she can be a surgeon in a world in which women are not even accepted as nurses yet. Mary will not be deterred, however. She goes to hospital after hospital, appeals to surgeon after surgeon. In a way, the war is just what Mary needs, as suddenly her services are needed at the Union Hotel aka Pestilence Palace where many wou ...more
Apr 11, 2010 Misfit rated it it was amazing
Mary Sutter is from a well-to-do family in Albany New York and the females in her family have been midwives for generations, but Mary dreams the impossible dream of being a surgeon. When the sabers rattle between the North and the South and the men of Albany gleefully join the Army, Mary heads for Washington City - if she can't be a surgeon she'll nurse instead - and she is soon literally up to her neck in wounded soldiers. Mary's story takes her to several battlefields and through her eyes we s ...more
Adelaide Mackenzie Fuss
Dreary! Why does she really want to be a doctor? Because she had a start as a midwife? This question is never truly answered. The joy of medicine and the deep intrigue of the most amazing machine on the planet, the human body, is never examined. From the perspective of this novel, medicine is the worst occupation possible. This is the author's slant on it. Dark book. The soul of a physician is NOT examined. Mary Sutter is purely ambitious for no other reason other than she has skills and few rom ...more
Nov 26, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow what a read! This author did her research!
This novel takes place in the premature and all stages of the Civil War. Mary was a midwife and desperately wanted to become a surgeon. Mary leaves her family behind to go to Washington to work in one of the worse hospitals to learn surgery. Mary is strong willed and refuses to let any one stand in her way of her dreams included her family. After the hospital is closed, she finds herself on the outskirts of battlefields with the help of two surgeons
Aug 28, 2013 Janet rated it did not like it
Wish I had never heard of Mary Sutter or any of the other cardboard characters that people this tedious, plodding book. Can't think of any redeeming qualities. Had to read this for book club, otherwise would have stopped after five pages.
Sep 09, 2015 Phyllis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Mary Sutter which takes place during the Civil war. She is a determined, headstrong and remarkable young woman, a midwife, who wants to become a surgeon in a time when women did not become physicians. Very well written.
Jul 30, 2010 Angie rated it did not like it
I read 130 pages into this book and was so bored with it. Life is too short to force yourself to read a book that isn't picking up speed by 130 pages in!
May 19, 2011 Beth rated it did not like it
Started it. Can't finish it. Boring.
Jul 30, 2010 Laura rated it it was amazing
Oh. My. Goodness. What an unforgettable book. Author Robin Oliveira has created a heroine unlike any other and a powerful story that captures the despair, horror and agony of one of the bloodiest battles in American history.

The year is 1861. Mary Sutter, a remarkable midwife trained by her mother, dreams of becoming a surgeon but is refused entrance to medical schools or to be apprenticed by a doctor. When the Civil War breaks out between the North and South, Mary Sutter leaves the comforts of h
Jan 15, 2012 Lisa rated it did not like it
I really liked this book, HOWEVER...there are a few (absolutely unnecessary) parts that make it so I cannot recommend it.

This book is about a young woman who is a midwife and wants to become a surgeon. She serves as a nurse during The Civil War.

There are lots of gory wounds, resulting amputations (minie balls did nasty damage), and childbirth horrors, that are described in detail (she is a midwife and nurse after all). The "gore" didn't bother me one bit. I actually thought those portions of t
Joy H.
Added 11/27/12
I wrote the following at my GR Book Group:
11/27/12-I've started reading My Name is Mary Sutter (2010) by Robin Oliveira. It's the December selection of our local Crandall Library's Monday Night Book Group.
I'm on p. 10 and it's drawn me in already.

NOTE: I finished reading this book sometime in January 2013.
It was a wonderful read!

"An enthralling historical novel about a young woman's struggle to become a doctor during the Civil War." FROM: http://ww
Jan 17, 2014 Tiffani rated it did not like it
To be honest, I couldn't finish this book. I felt like the major issue I had with it was Too Much Information. TMI. It was wordy with a lot of background information on each character and place. That alone though wasn't what bothered me. Every character's innermost thoughts spewed out almost at once. I feel like if an author is going to share multiple points of view, she should at least separate them by chapter. So it turned me off to hear what everyone thought of each situation all at once. Not ...more
Jun 27, 2010 Marialyce rated it it was amazing
This novel was truly wonderful. Mary Sutter, the strong heroine, is a woman to be both admired and pitied. She wants a life she can not have and when she does follow her dream it becomes the nightmare of the Civil War. Robin Olivera has done a remarkable job of writing that is able to capture your imagination. In fact many of the war scenes described are not for the faint of heart. Mary succeeds not only as a surgeon in the end, but also as a woman who finally finds the peace and the love of a g ...more
May 15, 2016 Lesley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
This was better than I actually thought it was going to be. I give it 3 stars for the parts about the war and Abe Lincoln, that though were historically interesting, not really needed for the story. I really did like how accurate this story was, the author did her homework! The details of turning hotels into hospitals during the civil war and all the unsanitary conditions were well documented. Mary Sutter was a very determined head strong young woman and the choices she faced during the civil wa ...more
Alicia Williams
Sep 27, 2011 Alicia Williams rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This would have been a wonderful book if it could have made up its mind what it was. As it is, the story of Mary Sutter, a woman trying to become more than just a midwife, becomes lost in vast tangents into war memoirs, partially-told love stories, and a good deal of patriot bashing. In the end we even lose track of Mary for long chapters as we follow other barely-developed sub-characters. I'm left really wanting to have read the story of Mary and her journey to medical training.
Apr 20, 2013 Julie rated it did not like it
I abandoned this book at 200 pages, which is my standard "I-give-up" place. It was very historical, but I didn't see the character getting anything she wanted and I didn't have the patience to keep waiting.
Aug 16, 2010 Mitzi rated it did not like it
Shelves: other
Just could not get thru this one...tried 3 different times. I always give it to page 75 and it just didn't get any better.
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 20, 2012 Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh rated it liked it
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Book Club
“In some ways I liked the struggle better, I think. It clarified what was important.”
Jan 24, 2013 Elisa rated it did not like it
Could not get into this book, in fact didn't finish it.
This novel is the best book I've read this year. For so many reasons. The distant, photographic writing style, for one. Usually that wouldn't work for me, because it's quite unromantic and distant. I noticed the author would sometimes (often) write conversations the way Austen wrote them: summarizing the conversation and reporting it as if someone else said it -- like "Do you want to come to dinner? She thought he might like to. Yes, he would. He likes being invited." Ha! I made that up. But you ...more
Nov 30, 2015 Sandra rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book, truly I did, but sadly I was disappointed. I like seeing strong female characters in fiction. Setting a good example and all that, but I could not get into this book. I will forever defend ambition and its uses since its good to have goals but at some point it just started to feel like tunnel vision. It was simple Mary thinking I want to be a surgeon, surgeon, surgeon and then I still want to be a surgeon. Really I tried not get annoyed but at some point it became jus ...more
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You'll love this ...: My name is Mary Sutter 74 40 Dec 22, 2015 01:47PM  
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Mar 06, 2015 03:26PM  
Cedar Falls Publi...: All Iowa Reads 5 15 Nov 05, 2014 04:22AM  
Cranbury Public L...: September 17, 2014 - My Name is Mary Sutter 1 4 Aug 20, 2014 10:11PM  
Talking about books... November 2012 4 46 Aug 28, 2013 04:52AM  
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Robin Oliveira grew up just outside Albany, New York in Loudonville. She holds a B.A. in Russian, and studied at the Pushkin Language Institute in Moscow, Russia. She is also a Registered Nurse, specializing in Critical Care and Bone Marrow Transplant. She received an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is the fiction editor for the literary magazine upstreet and a former assis ...more
More about Robin Oliveira...

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“In some ways I liked the struggle better, I think. It clarified what was important.” 14 likes
“For all the things we say to our children for their own good, very little good ever comes of it.” 4 likes
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