5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful novel

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 see the horror of what these poor soldiers suffered at the hands of ignorant politicians and incompetent generals. I haven’t the words for it, so I will let these quotes do the *talking*,

If we let one on the train who will die anyway, it will doom two.”

“In all the world, there is not medicine enough to heal what ails the Union army, mopping or no.”

 “Days later, the citizens of Washington would remark that the Potomac had turned the color of rust, but would not make the connection until news of the enormous numbers of casualties came pouring in.”

“How do you forget coffins? How do you forget to supply tourniquets? How do you forget that people might die?”

“If they had just washed their hands between patients, then all those deaths could have been prevented.

This is a novel that will move you and anger you. I actually had to put it down a couple of times and take an emotional break with something lighter. You will learn a whole lot more about the removal of limbs than you might ever wish to know and if you are the least bit fainthearted this might not the book for you. One more thing, if you’re expecting “a gorgeous love story” as one jacket blurber mentions – you are not going to find it here. Yes there are three men who love Mary but that is not the main focus of this book, nor should it be considered *chick lit*. Like other reviewers, I wasn’t that fond of the chapters with Lincoln and his cronies but other than that this is a solid five star read, and would make an excellent book club choice if you’re looking for lively discussions.

My copy courtesy of Amazon Vine.