Pearl, MD: Marie Bartlett
Opening mindedness was not a trait that most people had during the 1800’s regarding females in the workplace, no less a female doctor and accepting them as equals to men. Mistakes are made in every profession but when a doctor makes one the end result could mean a person’s life. Taney, County, Missouri, the year 1882 and the setting the office of Dr. Walter Stone. Walter Stone was one of the town’s physicians and Dr. Pearl Stern worked alongside of him as his intern. But, when the Doctor has a heart attack and dies leaving his practice without a primary doctor, Pearl needs to take hold of herself and push one. Pearl got her degree at the Women’s Medical College in Pennsylvania and learned the newest methods, techniques and drugs that could help her and the Dr. Stone in their practice. Not using the Lister Technique before caring for the mother and child might have prevented infection and kept the sites worked on sanitary. But, someone begs her for help as a young mother is in trouble and her child’s life is held in the balance as Pearl tries to help in the birthing and what happens next would cause a ripple effect that would take many months and a hard long look at herself and her methods before things could be resolved. A child is born, the mother is in trouble and a father walks in and refuses to allow Dr. Pearl to help any further. Warning him that she and the child might die, he ignores her pleas and takes them home only to have them not survive. Rather than realize he is partially if not fully to blame for the tragedy he reams out at Pearl even when she tried to check on his family at home.
Dr. Pearl: MD: a story of hope, fear, anger, revenge, retribution, prejudice, hate, intolerance, cruelty and inequality as author Marie Bartlett takes readers back in time to when women were not accepted as doctors, when men often disregarded their worth and one young doctor would stand her ground, keep her own principles in tack and fight for the rights of some many. When things go awry Pearl decides to leave her hometown but first she tries to buy Dr. Stone’s practice for herself and is not only denied but evicted. Perception: defined as: the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. Awareness, understanding and perceiving our own limitations. People look at others in different ways and what you or I see in a person others do not as Pearl would learn that just because she’s a female doctor. Living with her mistake makes it harder to Pearl to remain in her hometown. Thinking that Asheville was a great place for her to restart her life and having received a letter offering her a job from the town Alderman’s, Pearl decided to venture there and hoped for the best. But, another mistake or oversight was made as she will learn upon arrival. North Carolina is no different than Missouri and the people living there in some respects feel the same way about female physicians as they did where she came from. But, even more was her refusal to realize that she was not totally responsible for the death of the mother and child and the guilt she harbored within herself could and would not allow her to free her mind and move on with a clear head. Within the back of her mind this haunted her and when arriving in this small town she never would have expected that she could get support from the Chief of Police. With hope of restarting her life, building a new practice she finally meets with the town council and Alderman to be interrogated, questioned and then turned down. But, Dr. Pearl is smart, hardnosed and will not allow herself to be defeated and takes the advice of Chief Herschel Hawkins and opens her own practice. But, first before leaving she reminds readers of her friendship with Victoria and her doctor husband Walter also in need of moving on as this young doctor is in financial straits and moving his practice, paying off his creditors and starting over seemed like the answer. Choices and decisions are our own and the ones we make we need to live with so it’s best to think before you decide on anything in life. As the author takes us inside the minds of so many who are narrow minded, do not understand differences in people and a young woman hopes that her past will not come back to haunt her in the present. But, the wife of Dr. Stone is evil, vindictive and wants Pearl out of the way and even more destroyed. Within her own mind she thinks that Dr. Stone liked Pearl more than must an intern and that Pearl would have stolen him from her if given a chance. So, this rich and powerful woman enlists the help of the father and husband of the young child and mother that died and creates a plot so evil and diabolical she must might succeed. Throughout the novel many voices are heard and Pearl begins her new journey in Asheville with hope for her future. Finding a place to live she realizes that she will have to remain in a hotel for a while. A realtor in place she finds herself helping the Chief of Police sort out a murder as her first case. Followed by several others she manages to begin to gain the confidence of some of the people within the town and hires a young Negro woman named Loomey as her assistant. Tongues wag and people are talking but Dr. Pearl stands her ground and when Loomey proves that she is quite skilled they build more than just a simple working relationship they become real friends. Meeting the Chief of Police, accidentally get run over by Loomey’s husband, she manages to convince him to look into his case and hopefully reverse his arrest. But, forces are working against Pearl and not everyone is as open minded as she and Herschel as their friendship grows and her skills are put to the test as a young officer is shot and she is the only one that may be able to save Callahan. Tolerance, forgiveness and making tough choices are just some of the themes the author relates in this novel but there are more.
Women today are supposed to be equal to men and when jobs become available they are supposed to be given equal opportunities to apply. Color should not matter, race should not matter but everyone knows it often does. Women in the 1880’s were held to a different standard than today. Victorian culture or standard made sure that women behaved in a respectful and proper manner as set by society. As Pearl learns even when invited to a meeting or conference with a famous woman’s author, the topics discussed caused some to shake, leave and shy away from what the author was trying to convey. Women back then were often uninformed and some did not want to be enlightened when speaking about feminine issues. But, when the woman who invited her states that bringing Loomey placed her in a bad place, not only did she refrain from leaving, did she tell her they were both staying but she did not even think about buying the book that was being discussed. Prejudice is definitely an issue brought to light and Pearl learns early on that her practice might suffer if she keeps Loomey or tends to Negro patients. A man named Jeremiah Addison would be her champion and make sure that patients came to see her although he needed medical help but felt for him it was too late. With things going somewhat okay and being asked to assess a mental patient or a woman who appeared mentally ill for shooting an officer and escaping the law, Pearl learns early on that the judge and court would disregard her professional opinion and the end result was tragic for Beatrice.
Although she wants to remain in this town, gets more patients something happens that changes it all and she is forced to return to her past and face up to what others claim she did. A Governor’s warrant is drawn up and she is accused of manslaughter and it is up to Herschel to return her to Missouri to stand trial and own up for her crime. But, Herschel is smart and he looks long and hard at the situation and listens to Pearl, realizes the truth and takes her back home in his custody. But, a town that is prejudiced and has her convicted even before there is a trial stands hard and fast at their decision but who is behind the warrant and who really wants her out of the way?
Friendships, family ties and love are tested as Pearl goes up against a vengeful, cruel, mean and green-eyed monster wife of Dr. Stone. An official who signed off on the warrant because of who she is and a woman so angry only wanting everyone to accept her and bow down to her will. When the husband of the woman that died forms an alliance with the widow of Dr. Stone no one thinks that Pearl will come out unscathed. But, one man has faith in her and although the widow wants her in jail and the key thrown away, logic, reason and a smart Chief of Police just might foil them at their own game. But, Sherriff Billings runs his town in a different manner and although Herschel believes in her innocence will that be enough? Slander, libel, lies and a delusional woman and a man who just wants money to take care of his family anyway he can get it. With Loomey at her side, helping her with her patients, teaching her how to cook and dealing with the few patients they have, will this be enough to make her want to stay if she is cleared?
Enter Taney County, meet the people, decide for yourself if you would live there and meet the widow Stone, meet Singleton the man whose wife and child died but then enter Asheville and see what happens when an entire town comes together when you least expect them too. But, someone is out to make sure that things go wrong and an inspector is sent by the widow for what purpose you just won’t believe. Some will do anything for money and others will chance ruining people to stay connected to those they feel have the power. When a decision is made and Pearl learns her fate returning to Asheville she would learn one more! An ending that is explosive and a town that will endear you to them as we meet Dr. Stevens, Dr. Hanson, listen to their feelings about Dr. Pearl and find out when things get tough, things go wrong and perceptions change that we often realize that gold is right in front of us and we need to protect it. An ending that leads readers to hope she will bring these characters back again? Will Pearl Stay? Would you stay? Decide after reading this book!
Fran Lewis: Reviewer