A Pioneering Woman’s Struggles in Medicine

The Surgeon’s Daughter follows the journey of Nora Beady, a pioneering woman in the 19th-century medical field. Orphaned and raised by Dr. Horace Croft, Nora receives an unconventional education in medicine, leading to a deep passion for surgery. However, her path is filled with obstacles in a male-dominated society that views women as unfit for the operating room.

Nora’s journey takes her from England to Italy, where she becomes the only woman attending medical school. She faces both personal and professional challenges, including the prejudices of her colleagues and societal norms that limit her opportunities. Everything changes when she allies herself with Magdalena Morenco, the sole female doctor on staff. Together, they develop new techniques to improve a groundbreaking surgery: the Cesarean section.

The novel’s strengths lie in its rich historical detail and a strong female protagonist. The medical details are outstanding—I can’t imagine giving birth via c-section without anesthesia and pain medication—and limitations placed on women in the 19th century are well-researched. However, the pacing is uneven, with some parts dragging because of excessive medical jargon. Additionally, the supporting characters lack depth, and Nora’s relationships, particularly her romance with Daniel, feel underdeveloped.

Overall, The Surgeon’s Daughter has its merits but may not captivate all readers. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

** Thanks to the publisher for a comp of this book. The opinions are my own.

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