Book Review: The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund
Publisher: Bethany House
Publication Date: September 1, 2011
Book Synopsis as provided by the publisher:
Priscilla White knows she'll never be a wife or mother and feels God's call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.
Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God's leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.
Adventure, drama, a faith that will inspire you, characters defying societal expectations...The Doctor's Lady has it all. This novel is the first I have read by the author, and I discovered that Jody Hedlund provides an entertaining and absorbing read. Although I've read many historical fiction novels about travelling west to Oregon, it was quite interesting to read about the first white women to travel across America and the trials they encountered. One of my primary criticisms about this book is that it was not until the very end that I learned that the novel was based on a factual account of this very event. I am the type of reader that would enjoy looking at a story through the lens of wondering "Wow, this may have really happened!". I wish I had been told this information prior to starting the story, and I'm still not clear why this is not announced somewhere on the back cover or at the beginning of the book, because I would have viewed the story in a different manner.
Despite this fact, I found that the writing was well done, with swift dialogue, expert use of descriptions and detail, and well-developed characters. I found Eli to be a fascinating character with his heart-wrenching background, his strong faith in God, and his counter-cultural view of American Indians. I grew a bit impatient with the unfolding of Priscilla and Eli's relationship and waiting to determine whether they would make their marriage "real" or not, and his self-control when Priscilla practically threw herself at him was rather superhuman! However, I realize that this is a guy's perspective and that this novel was probably primarily written for a female audience, so I shall offer my opinion with a grain of salt.
Readers of historical fiction will readily engage with the characters and find themselves well-entertained and inspired to consider how they themselves can give their everything for Jesus, even at risk of their own lives. A solid recommendation, I give this novel 4 out of 5 stars.
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group.