Friday, 13 May 2011
Book Review: The Heart Specialist by Claire Holden Rothman
Agnes White's father was a renowned physician in 1870s Montreal, but when he is embroiled in a scandal he leaves her, and her pregnant mother, and disappears. When her mother dies Agnes is left to be raised by her Grandmother who had very strict ideas about appropriate behaviour for a young lady. Agnes though was fasinated by her father's work and, having salvaged some of his equipment, furtively sets up a laboratory that would horrify her grandmother and sister.
When a new governess with an interest in natural history arrives Agnes' horizons are broadened significantly. Although there are limited opportunities for a woman at the time Agnes pursues her desire to become a Doctor. The book tells the story of her battles to achieve that title, and of the continued influence of her father and his protege on her life. The afterword tells the reader that inspiration for the book was taken from the life of one of Montreal's first female doctors, and this was the aspect that most interested me. To think how far opportunities for women have grown in 100 years or so is wonderful.
In additional to this the story encompasses the very gradual romance between Agnes and her assistant, the impact on her circle of acquaintances of World War I and the mystery behind her father's disappearance. The various elements of the story worked well together & I liked Agnes and appreciated her tenacity. We can also see her flaws, making her very real. This is book was a good combination of history, romance and mystery and well worth a look if they are genres that appeal to you.
Format: E-book, review copy (I received an ARC but a paperback version with a different cover already appears to be available in the UK)
My Rating: 3*