Breaking Barriers in 19th-Century Medicine

The Girl in His Shadow is a fascinating historical novel set in 19th-century London. The story is about Nora Beady, an orphan raised by the brilliant and eccentric Dr. Horace Croft after her parents died during a cholera outbreak. Unlike other young women of the time, Nora is trained in suturing and anatomical illustrations, rather than embroidery, defying societal norms that restrict women from practicing medicine.

Nora secretly assists Dr. Croft with surgeries and medical research, honing her skills and expanding her knowledge. Dr. Daniel Gibson, a charming and ambitious young doctor, threatens to expose Nora’s hidden talents. As Nora navigates the challenges of working in a male-dominated field, she faces a tough decision when she makes a groundbreaking discovery: should she stay invisible and let the men around her take credit, or reveal her true self to the world?

The novel vividly portrays the gritty medical practices of the period and the obstacles faced by doctors and researchers. Nora is a strong protagonist that readers will cheer for as she strives to break barriers in medicine.

I read the series out of order, starting with The Surgeon’s Daughter, but I recommend beginning with this one. The descriptions of cadaver dissections and surgeries are gruesome and difficult to read, but they reflect the harsh realities of medical training during that era. Can you imagine major surgeries and amputations being performed without anesthesia?

Overall, I rate The Girl in His Shadow 4 stars.

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