I absolutely love historical fiction and read a lot of it; I love to learn history this way. I also enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller and non-fiction science.
Elspeth Shaughnesshey is the daughter of Irish Immigrants living in Buffalo, NY. In 1901, The Pan American Exposition sets up in Buffalo. Having completed her nursing training, El is fortunate to snag a job at the Exhibition Hospital. However, the exposition hospital is temporary and the Shaughnesshey family is continuing to grow. With her father's death, the bar that the Shaughnesshey family runs is failing. El knows she needs to bring money into the family, she strives for a permanent nursing position at Buffalo General, but also has her eyes on a wealthy Exposition doctor, Dr. Kingdom in hopes of securing funds for her family. While working to get Dr. Kingdom's attention, a new doctor, Dr. Gunner joins the hospital and throws El's emotions askew. Not to mention, President McKinley is visiting the Expo and an anarchist is following closely behind. When the anarchist takes a shot at McKinley, El is thrown into the team of doctors that does their best to deal with the assassination attempt.
This is an in-depth and interesting view of the assassination of President McKinley. I was very interested in this story because I enjoy reading about local history. I grew up not to far from Buffalo, NY and knew about the fate of President McKinley, but not much else. I loved that the story was told from El's point of view, a nurse that was told to stay in the background and not talk, but usually did anything but. Through El's position as a nurse and her family's placement, El was able to have views of both the assassin, the President and the doctors who attempted to save his life. El gave insight into the medical practices of the day and the disparaging viewpoints at the time. It was fascinating to find out about the sanitation practices for medicine, that the X-Ray that had just been developed was not used to find the bullet in President McKinley's abdomen, that an obstetrician was the operating surgeon as well as how McKinley lived his last days. The historical facts of McKinley's assassination attempt, operation and death were expertly woven into an exciting fictional story. The development of El's character also let me see how an Irish family living in Buffalo was treated at the time. El's development throughout the story and courage to find love where she wasn't looking was a sweet interlude in an otherwise tragic tale.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.