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Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
The Beauty Doctor by Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard is a compelling historical novel steeped in mystery with strong elements of a medical thriller. Having assisted her father’s patients and watched him work, Abigail Platford grows up with one thing clear in her mind — attend medical school and become a doctor. Medicine had always been more of a religious calling for her and she looked at the doctor as no different from a modern day saint. But in April 1907, she finds herself in New York City, broke and uncertain. She accepts a position, however insignificant, in the office of Dr. Franklin Rome, a position that allows her to stay close to the profession. At least that’s what she thinks. Abigail is immediately fascinated by Dr. Rome’s skill and good looks, and how he can transform a person through beauty surgery. But a partnership with Joe’s museum of human oddities raises serious problems, and Abigail find herself caught up in a world of deceit, a world with nothing reflecting her fundamental values and beliefs. She experiences betrayal in a way she never imagined.
The Beauty Doctor is a fascinating read with compelling characters. The setting in New York City is excellently done and readers will enjoy this tale from the moment Abigail is introduced to New York high society and her subsequent involvement with Dr. Rome. The prose is elegant and the dialogues exciting. I enjoyed the exchanges between Abigail and Joe the most, given their contrasting backgrounds and education, when they talked about the aberrations of nature or freaks of nature. The transformations that take place in Abigail’s life are interesting and readers will enjoy her view of beauty surgery. Elizabeth Hutchison Bernard creates very compelling characters and the emotional as well as the moral implications of the story are well explored. Great pacing, gripping plot, and very suspenseful. It is an engaging read.