Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Heart Specialist by Claire Holden Rothman

The inspiration for this book was taken from the life
and work of Dr Maude Elizabeth Seymour Abbot. She was one
of Montreal's first female physicians. This is not at all
the story of her life, but a novel that takes us along the
path with a woman of that time who wanted to become a physician.

Those were still the years when women were expected to make a home
for their men, and considered ill equipped or not intelligent enough
to consider more than minimal education. To think of those times now,
it seems impossible. We have women like Dr Abbot to thank for the
fact that women are now understood to be the equals of men.

Agnes White and her younger sister were being raised by their paternal
grandmother. But although her younger sister was quiet and considered
to be ladylike, Agnes was more inquisitive. She wanted to know how things
worked. Specifically, she was interested in the human body and even as a
child revered her father, who was a doctor. She had in face taken some
of his equipment for her own. In particular she took and hid away, a microscope.
She had quietly removed it from among her fathers belongings which her
grandmother had given away, long after the man himself had disappeared.

There was a scandal, but of course Agnes believed that all of the talk was
wrong, and that her father, Doctor Bourret was not guilty of the murder of
his sister. A happy circumstance of a new governess, who was herself well
educated, but that at the knee of her own father, is what helped to set Agnes
on the path to become a physician, herself.

This is a well told and extraordinary story of a women whose struggle
to enter medical school seemed to be blocked at every turn. Finding out if
she would prevail, was a more than worthy read.

I recommend this extraordinary book to men and women alike.
Anyone interested in history, or just a good strong story will
be glad to read The Heart Specialist

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