on Sep. 29, 2012 :
The author of this book is a long time resident of Augusta, Georgia and has had a long career as a registered nurse.
The book is related in a fictional style and includes fictional characters, but there is a substantial amount of history in the 32 chapters. The primary plot involves three students at the Medical College of Georgia in 1854 and an incident of body snatching that spins off into burial and reburial, consternation, anxiety and a dash of romance. Other chapters describe the early years of the Medical College and its founders, as well as significant events in the history of Augusta and of medicine in the South between the 1830s and the 1850s.
I acquired this book during Read An Ebook Week in March 2012, when it was available as a free download. I was initially attracted by the subject matter as described in the title because of similarities with my own first novel. For some reason I expected this to be a novel as well, not having taken notice of the word “tales” in the subtitle. As a result I was slightly disconcerted by the digressions from the rather engaging opening chapters into what appeared to be historical essays in Chapters 3 through 6. I kept on reading and was glad I did because those chapters were interesting too, and their relevance to the main story emerged by the time I was half way through the book.
Ms. Parks writes in a competent, straightforward style. Her primary characters are vividly rendered, from students to professors, a black man sold as a slave and an Irishwoman desperate to escape from the potato famine with her children. As the story progressed I came to care about them and how things would turn out for them.
In a way, these interwoven tales reminded me a little of essays by the medical writer Berton Roueche. Like them, they impart facts in an interesting and entertaining way through clear, straightforward prose. I heartily recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of medicine or life in the antebellum South.
(reviewed 7 months after purchase)