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The Girl in His Shadow

by Audrey Blake

The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake X
The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake
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  • Paperback:
    May 2021, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Elisabeth Cook
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There are currently 6 reader reviews for The Girl in His Shadow
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Sonia Francis

The audacity of a female
Nora, an orphan in 19th century London has lost her parents to cholera and is raised by Dr. Croft . The tenacity and persistence of Nora to risk it all in a Victorian society where women’s role in medicine is zero is absolutely shunned on to the point of criminality. Nora is defiant that she she won’t be the homemaker: not knitting, not baking cookies. She follows Dr Croft around, she reads, learns her anatomy, practices on the cadavers, learns to do sutures and mend wounds - all of this done clandestinely, because she is not supposed to be in this role.
This novel hooked me right in and didn’t let me go. I totally enjoyed the medical aspect especially the surgery performed on a patient with gangrenous bowel. Even if you were not in the health field, you were awed by the surgical settings. It was made better with a little romance thrown in by a doctor (Daniel) who at first had issues with Nora being “ in the way” until she proved herself knowledgeable and capable.
An absolute gem of a book with characters ranging from hero to villains. I loved it because of the enlightenment towards women in the 19th century and thinking how far women has come. I wished that Nora did not have to leave Daniel and I would always wonder if they will ever meet again. There should be a sequel.
Katherine Pond

Women Cannot Practice Medicine!
Received a copy of this book to discuss on BookBrowse. I found it incredibly interesting for many reasons. As a pre-med grad and a teacher of Anatomy and Physiology for about 30 years the history of women in science and the restrictions on their opportunities to study and practice medicine, while not unfamiliar to me, was presented in a very personable way. It was very easy to identify with Nora and her interest in and fascination with the human body and its diseases. To have a mentor such as Dr Croft was such a gift to her. And yet, though she is as talented and bright as any male med student she could not legally apply her knowledge nor be certified to practice medicine. In this regard, Italy was far ahead of its time in being supportive of the life of a woman in a professional capacity, beyond the kitchen and nursery. That actually was a hallmark of Italian society well before the 19th century!
Besides the story of Nora and women's place in society, is the revelation of the rudimentary practice called medicine only a bit more than a century ago. Sometimes, we forget just how far the knowledge of the human body and its functions has come in a relatively short time. The conflict of egos among the men practicing is also interesting to learn. Though, truth be told, that hasn't change d much as evidenced by all the doctors, epidemiologists etc that have come out of the woodwork during this latest pandemic. Each of them sure of their positions and each of them happy to grandstand and proclaim them loudly--despite the confusion their cacophony has produced among the people of the world.
The characters are all very well drawn and the personality of each is easy to envision. From the housekeeper who is the only mother Nora has really known to the young doctors who find her appealing, each of them is three dimensional and relatable. Considering the story could have been bogged down in textbook style presentation of the experiments and surgeries and treatments described, it is a joy to say, none of it is boring or overly descriptive--just enough for reality but not so much to repel. Well done, ladies!
carriem

The Girl in His Shadow
An engaging historical fiction about one woman’s struggle to use her abilities and knowledge in medicine and science during Victorian times in London and the societal roadblocks she faced. Nora has mentors that support and encourage her but there are obstacles and decisions she must reach including going beyond boundaries set for her and breaking of an agreed upon confidence. One of her initial skeptics and later supporters develops into a mutual romantic interest. An excellent book for book groups because there are many points and views to discuss.
Jos

Girl Power
Good historical Fiction on women and medicine set in the mid 1800s London. The book examines how women were band from practicing medicine and ethical situations in discovering lifesaving techniques. There is a big romance set in this book,
but enough medical experiments and surgeries to keep this geeky science girl interested! The Historical references were good and interesting and the characters were complex and endearing. In some ways the romance was important in context to demonstrate the difficulties of women trying to break that glass ceiling and all the rules of convention it involved but I felt it was too predictable and was tiresome at times. I really adore Nora the main character who is adopted by a distracted but brilliant Doctor and his housekeeper. The Doctor is inclined to step out of “the box,” when it comes to how and who is practicing medicine, so Nora is not denied a brilliant education in science however impractical it will be to her. Nora is bright, compassionate and has strong moral values yet she is totally unconventional for her time throwing many people in her life off guard! However, this never stops Nora from pushing forward to obtain her dreams and I felt akin to her right away. A book I would recommend to fellow historical fiction lovers. Interesting note about the author Audrey Blake, which is a pseudonym of Jaime Fixsen of Canada and Regina Sirois of Kansas! Being from Kansas, I loved this book involved a local author How fun!!
Susan P

An Unexpected Ending
The story of a young woman who has a talent for medicine during a time when women were not allowed to practice as doctors has been told before. But, this time, the story has an unexpected twist at the end. The story in between beginning and end is entertaining, has good character development and captured this reader's imagination. A most enjoyable read and I recommend it as a good book club discussion book.
Christine

Thoroughly Enjoyed!
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Handled the subject really well without being patronizing - even the romance was done well without making the woman “weak” and “lose” herself.
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