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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
A Woman Doctor Came to Town by Raymond Cook is a historical Western frontier story that follows Julia Pearce, a midwife who moves with her father Jacob to Apache Junction in 1890. As the father and daughter team settle into the town without a doctor, they are warmly welcomed by the town and, in particular, Julia is welcomed by the women and children of the town. While Jacob is the primary physician, he depends on Julia to assist where he is unable, and over time under the guidance of her father, she becomes accepted as a useful practitioner in her own right—particularly when a mass shooting occurs in Apache Junction. When a smallpox epidemic hits Apache Junction, many people in the town died and Julia is left to her own resources to begin again. Unfortunately, her father is no longer with her to make the transition comfortable in a new city in Colorado.
Raymond Cook introduces an intelligent and resilient female protagonist in A Woman Doctor Came to Town. Julia is a character that is easy to root for and her placement in a Western frontier tale adds a fresh twist to a classic genre. The story is written with a simple, straightforward narrative that is comfortable to follow. It is evident that an exhaustive amount of research went into the book, as the scant but ever-growing medical knowledge and availability of supplies (in comparison to today's standard) are well represented in the novel. I love how the time period is accurately depicted, and even though Julia is a modern woman for her time, Cook is sensitive to the era he writes about and respects both the limitations faced by a woman and the desire within Julia to push beyond those boundaries.