Carol's Reviews > The Heart Specialist

The Heart Specialist by Claire Holden Rothman
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's review
Jun 23, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2011, memoirs-bio
Read from June 27 to July 04, 2011

I need to share my personal feelings that I had while reading this book with you. I love reading biographies and also anything to do with medicine. But this book left me with a bad taste in mouth. Somehow I developed a fondness for Dr. Maude Abbott and wanted to protect her even though she has passed away four years after she retired in 1940.

During the part covering Dr. Maude Abbott's childhood, it was so gloomy that I wondered if I could finish reading 'The Heart Specialist'. I peeked in the Afterword Section and the author states that this book was inspired by the life of Dr. Maude Abbott but that the events and people in it are fictional. Somehow this made me mad. Was Dr. Abbott's childhood really so bereft of loving kindness from her adoptive grandmother? So, I set out on the Internet to search for the facts of her life. Dr. Abbott's mother died when Maude was very young and her father abandoned when she was seven months old. As I read the book, I was constantly irritated by the author's omission of a short statement in the book as to which characters were real and which were not. I have seen this done in many books and just took it for granted but this time I really felt it missing. I felt is a disservice to the Dr. Maude Abbott.

Ok, now that is off my chest, I can continue. The first part of the book concerns her childhood and it and it really drags on. Did Dr. Maude Abbot truly have no one on her side besides her younger sister? Was her desire to see the father who abandoned his daughters a result of a lack of warmth for the grandmother? There is some mystery as to why the father left and some connections to him of some very dark deed. I did not enjoy the first part of the book; I wanted it to be over. But I decided to stick it out in hopes that Maude’s life would get better. And it did, from page 55; the story finally picks up some speed and doesn't seem as dark.

One thing that I really liked about this book was that the author shows with the story the true motivations for Dr. Abbott's rise to fame in Europe and eventually in her home country of Canada. We learn that McGill University was like many in North America with their expectations of what women were capable of doing in medicine and created barriers against women entering the medical profession that did not exist for men.

I am glad that I read this book, not because I enjoyed it so much as I liked learning about this pioneer in medical science and women’s rights to an education. I hope that more books are written about these hidden stars of medicine. I wished for a listing of her accomplishments. That would have been a welcome addition to the back of the book.

I recommend this book to everyone who is interested in medical history and who has the patience to keep reading after the gloomy beginning.

I received this book as a part of the Amazon Vine Program and but no part of my review was influenced by that.

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Reading Progress

07/01/2011 page 9
07/02/2011 page 56
17.0% "gloomy so far"
07/03/2011 page 152
47.0% "finally hooked"
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