Where the Light Enters

Berkley. Sept. 2019. 672p. ISBN 9780425271827. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780698140684. F
It’s 1884. In a society ruled by men, Anna and Sophie Savard are anomalies. Having grown up with strong female role models, they are both now respected doctors. They are also cousins and best friends. Anna, a newlywed, has recently lost custody of three orphans, taken away on religious grounds. Sophie, still dressed in mourning, is adjusting to life as the multiracial widow of a prominent white man. The pair is asked to consult on a police case. Several women have died—the result of intentionally botched abortions. Now others are disappearing. The detectives suspect the cases are related and ask the doctors to weigh in. Donati’s (The Gilded Hour) compelling prose explores ethnic and religious differences of the time. Readers will find themselves lost in late 19th-century New York City, from the orphanages to the practice of medicine and the court system.
VERDICT Storytelling so rich in detail it borders on minutiae may be a distraction for some readers. Despite a central theme based on a police investigation, this story should not be confused for a mystery. Give this to readers who care more about the journey than the destination. [See Prepub Alert, 3/4/19.]

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