Dana Schwartz’s Anatomy: A Love Story is a gothic tale full of mystery and romance.
Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry.
Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die.
When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: If she can pass the medical examination on her own, Beecham will allow her to continue her medical career. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need corpses to study.
Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then.
But Jack has his own problems: Strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets, and the dreaded Roman Fever, which wiped out thousands a few years ago, is back with a vengeance. Nobody important cares – until Hazel.
Now, Hazel and Jack must work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
Anatomy, A Love Story by Dana Schwartz transports you to Victorian Scotland, where you join Hazel Sinnett and her quest to become a doctor in a world where women are not considered intelligent enough or strong enough for such endeavors. She finds it to be a dangerous goal full of mysteries and even finds love in the least likely places, especially since she has been promised to the son of a viscount since birth.
What I Enjoyed:
I enjoyed this so much about this story, but I will start with its extraordinary ability to immerse me in the world, beginning with the first page. I was instantly transported, and I loved every second of it even when I didn’t like the old-fashioned misogynistic views of Victorian-era men. The story envelopes you and compels you to keep reading long after your eyes have grown tired and everyone else in your house is asleep.
Medicine in this period is absolutely fascinating with its crazy notions. Following the details of what Hazel is learning held my attention thoroughly before the mystery picked up steam. I realized at one point that this story could easily have my attention without the puzzle. However, I did find the deaths and oddities behind them totally compelling and the solving of it jaw-dropping with its dark supernatural twist.
The romance is so innocent and sweet, and I fell in love with the romance itself rather than the romantic hero, even though I’m sure many readers will consider him swoon-worthy. I’ll admit, it totally gave me Jack and Rose vibes (though much more innocent), but that’s because of the period and the similarities in the Jacks. Their respect for a woman’s intelligence and independence is refreshing in this very oppressive world.
Lastly, the story is technically young adult, but it is timeless and would appeal easily to adults – even and especially to adults who do not usually read YA. I don’t know if it is because of the period or because Hazel is so mature, or maybe a combination of the two. I loved the timelessness of this story.
And, just a brief mention before I close out my thoughts in this section – the cover is stunning! If you look closely, you will see it’s not just a heart – so go look closely and fall in love with it yourself.
The characters jump right off the page and into your heart quickly and easily. They are all incredibly complex and enticingly developed. I loved so many of them, from the personal maid Iona to the main character, Hazel, and many in between.
Hazel is a modern woman in an archaic world. She has always been fascinated with the human body and curing ills, even going so far as to stitch up the help at her estate if they should happen to cut themselves. Hazel’s life passion is to become a doctor and help the poor, whose only option is the horrible hospital for the poor. You can’t help but champion this young woman who has many admirable qualities, such as bravery, compassion, and a total lack of entitlement.
Reminds Me Of:
I mentioned that the romance gave me Titanic vibes. The mystery reminded me of one Sherlock Holmes would take on. Other than that, Anatomy is fresh and original, encompassing so many fascinating elements from the Victoria era.
What I Wish:
I can’t imagine wishing any element of the story was different. How can I when it was utterly captivating as is?
To Read or Not to Read:
If you are looking for an original story that you will not be able to put down no matter how late it gets, Anatomy, A Love Story by Dana Schwartz is just the read you need to pick up.