Based on a real missionary couple of the 1830's, Jody Hedlund's novel The Doctor's Lady is the story of the journey of the first white woman to cross the Rocky Mountains. Priscilla White has always felt called to missions, and after a severe illness left her infertile, she felt that calling reinforced. However, the only way the missionary board will allow her to go to India - which she has long felt is her calling - is if she is married, and that, she has accepted, will never happen. However, Dr. Elijah Ernest is also in the same predicament - except that his calling is to the Nez Perce of Oregon. Since neither can leave without a spouse, they make a business agreement to minister to the Nez Perce together, and then embark on the arduous, seven-month journey to far Oregon - across vast wilderness no white woman has ever seen, and through land full of danger, disease, and hardship.
Full of real disasters and mishaps that happened to the real couple, this novel is a journey back in time to when everything west of the Mississippi was new, dangerous, and exciting, and Hedlund does not make light of the hardships or work involved in such a journey. Even more poignant, though, is the journey Priscilla and Eli make as a couple - a journey that for them is just as new, dangerous, and exciting as their westward march, and one that is equally full of hardship and work. The characters are not perfect, but they are so easy to like - and as such it hurts more when they are hurting, to the point where my eyes did not always remain dry.
Both Priscilla's infertility and her loveless marriage are a burden and an embarrassment to her, so she bottles the pain inside and never speaks of it. By never acknowledging the truth to others, she is largely able to avoid becoming an object of pity; but by not sharing it with her closest friends and family, she also misses out on the loving support they would give her - support that she has been desperately needing for so long. It forces one to think about all the things - both big and little - one hides to avoid the pity, pain, or embarrassment that could result from sharing. The easy excuse is that it is no one else's business, which is largely true; but the truth is that sometimes we really need support from people who love us.
As usual, Hedlund did an excellent job writing a very historical novel without compromising the story itself. 5 out of stars!
Eli Ernest believes he has been given the God-given dream of traveling to the Oregon Country to set up a medical mission to serve and save the Nez Perce Indians. The year is 1836 and he has returned from his travel west to gain funding to set up his mission. Once in the Oregon Country, he doubts he will ever return to the East. As he nears his departure date, he chafes at the requirement placed on him by the Board of Missions that he must take a wife with him, as well as another missionary couple. He finally finds the couple, but has trouble finding a wife. He decides his only choice is the beautiful, but prim and proper, Priscilla White. He must get west and will do whatever it takes to get there. Priscilla White is now 26 years old and has enamored of missionary work since the age of 15. She knows she will never marry and has put in her application to teach as a missionary in India. However, with the board’s new requirement of marriage, her application is rejected. She had her hopes pinned on this job so she could leave her town and avoid the eventual pity and scorn that would come when everyone finds out about her infertility. Now, with her hopes dashed, she meets Eli. Their first encounter is full of sparks. Priscilla’s mother becomes convinced she needs to go West with Eli. Eventually, both Eli and Priscilla realize that in order to pursue their God-given missions they must marry. They decide to marry each other and have a marriage in name only. Eli promises that if the journey west, which no white woman has ever done before, becomes too much, he will send her home with an annulment. As the journey takes place via riverboat, horseback, and wagon, Eli begins to appreciate the value of his wife. She never complains about the arduous pace he sets, their scant food and their less than comfortable accommodations. Priscilla begins to see Eli for the brave, resourceful and caring man that has made him into a great doctor. Through the various trials along the way, both come to see that they are willing to give their lives in service to God. The characters in this story are very well done and I admired Priscilla very much. I also like the author’s added notes about the historical accuracy of some of the events that happened to the real person Priscilla was modeled after. I also liked the inclusion of the other missionary couple and their history with Priscilla as well as the fact they were real people too. I’m a history buff and this historical information added so much depth to the story for me. This is one readers won’t want to pass by.
I loved Jody Hedlund’s book, The Doctor’s Lady! This is the first book of hers that I’ve read, but it definitely won’t be the last. I love books that keep me wanting to turn the page to see what’s going to happen next. This was one of those.
From the very first word, “Indians!”, she had me wondering where this story of a marriage of convenience was going to go. Inspired by the true account of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, missionaries to the Nez Perce Indians in Oregon, Jody takes us on a journey of trials and hardships as well as triumph and romance. And threaded through the entire story is the message of how God loves all people.
Priscilla White knows the Lord is calling her to be a missionary. Then the missionary board declares that she must get married before she can go. What’s she to do now? Nobody is going to want to marry her with her problem? Or at least she thinks.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I identified with the characters in that sometimes I don’t communicate my heart to the special people in my life. The story helped me see the importance of sharing my true feelings.
I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for writing a review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
Okay, I've got two words for you : Jody Hedlund!! Praise be Jesus because I've been waiting for a while- make that a long while- to get my hands on this book. I'm so happy to say that it was worth the wait and that I enjoyed every word! (Finished it in less than 12 hours). My first read from Jody Hedlund, and thank God that it's not her last work. Oh how I LOVE a good love story! I also appreciated the fact that this novel (inspired by a true story) demonstrated how God is strong in our weaknesses. But let's get it straight here. Ladies, if you like a good story, packed with adventure, twists and turns, a hot hero (um, sorry??) An even hoter love story, (NOT the 'cute' kind); It's about time you considered Jody's writing!
Historical fiction means much more when it’s been inspired by a true story, and that’s just what Jody Hedlund gives her readers in "The Doctor’s Lady".
It is 1836, and Priscilla White knows she has been called to be a missionary teacher in India. She is just as sure that God has called her to remain single, but the Mission Board has decided young, single women are not fit for the dangerous mission field, and have turned down her application.
Dr. Eli Ernest is also bound for the mission field – as a doctor to the native tribes in the newly discovered northwest. He has spent a year among the tribes in Oregon, and longs to return, but the Mission Board supporting him has determined that he must take a wife along, or not return at all.
In order for both of them to fulfill God’s call, Priscilla and Eli decide to marry – in name only. But even as they start their journey west, have the seeds of romance already been planted?
Jody Hedlund was inspired by the story of Narcissa and Marcus Whitman, missionaries to the Nez Perce Indians in the early 1800’s. Mrs. Hedlund drew extensively from the Whitman’s diaries for her story, giving the incidents along the way the true flavor of authenticity.
"The Doctor’s Lady" is Mrs. Hedlund’s second book (her first was her award-winning "The Preacher’s Bride", 2010), and I hope we will be able to enjoy many more offerings. Her next book, "Unending Devotion", is due out September, 2012, and is available for pre-order now.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for my unbiased review.
I really liked that Jody based this novel on real people – Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, which she talks a little bit about at the end of the book. It is a fictionalized tale, but one that is heavily based on Narcissa’s personal journals. This story covers from the point when Eli comes to New York and visits Priscilla’s community church and their entire journey back across the continent to Oregon, to what would eventually become the Oregon Trail. Priscilla (Narcissa) was the first white female to ever cross the continental divide – a feat that many thought was impossible to be achieved by any woman. It seemed that at every turn their paid guides left them high and dry, but Eli was bound and determined to get Prescilla there in one piece. Their traveling companions, Henry and Mabel Spalding (Henry and Eliza Spalding), made for interesting company, especially since Priscilla had once turned down Henry for her hand in marriage.
It is obvious the amount of research Jody has done and I actually want to read Narcissa’s firsthand accounts of their journey. Overall, I really enjoyed the story of their overland journey and look forward to Jody Hedlund’s other book, The Preacher’s Bride, which is based on the story of Paul Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress and his wife Elizabeth.
Thanks to Bethany House for providing me with an copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
This story was a great read and once I got into the story I couldn't put it down. I loved that it was based on a true story and I appreciated the history and accuracy of the journey West. The beginning of the story was a little rough, at times the characters personalities felt forced. The plot felt forced and the tension between the main characters felt fake. After the first few chapters, the story began to take shape and things began flowing better. Getting past the beginning was hard, but once I got through it, the story came to life and I enjoyed it. Overall, I loved "The Doctor's Lady." I loved not only the physical journey Priscilla and Eli take to the West, but I loved the romantic and spiritual journey they took. I liked how the characters were not "perfect" missionaries. They both had weaknesses that they had to overcome, and though they were still imperfect people, this story demonstrates how God can still use us despite our human weaknesses. This story was very encouraging and reminded me that God can use us, we just need to wholly surrender to Him. Loved this book!
In Angelica, New York, 1836, Priscilla White is anxiously awaiting for her assignment as a missionary in India. As she sits with her family in the sanctuary Dr. Eli Ernest is escorted by two young Indian males. Dr. Eli is there to speak to the congregation on behalf of the Board of Missions to ask for support to set up a mission for the Nez Perce Indians in the Oregon Country. But in order to be funded the Board requires that any male or female missionary is to be married. Which Dr. Eli Ernest is not. Priscilla is coerced by her family and friends that she would be the perfect choice for his help-mate. This would mean giving up her desire to go to India as a missionary. Besides Dr. Eli and Priscilla are not sure and so they agree to a marriage of convenience. The treak across country is a long and dangerous trip in wagons. Dr. Eli doubts Priscilla has the fortitude for the trip. But Priscilla is determined to prove him wrong. They both feel lead by the Spirit to be missionaries. The author paints an amazing picture of their travels west. Making a trip west in wagons extremely dangerous and many people lost there lives along the way. I had a hard time putting this book down. I tried to think of something I did not like about the book but I could not think of anything that I would change.
This review was posted on my blog 11/8/11
I recommend this book.
My rating for this book is 5 out of 5.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for review. I was in no way compensated for my opinion. This is my honest opinion.
This book captured my attention because of the plot. I bought it, read it, and thoroughly enjoyed it! It is one of those books that tugs at your heartstrings with every page, and yet is not sappy. Although the book is 374 pages, I wish it could have gone on and on. (I need a sequel to tell me what happens next in the story!) A great read!
I didn't realize until I finished this book that it is based on the true life story of two missionaries. I appreciated the author's passion and respect for these people. I loved the tension in the beginning when Priscilla will not be allowed to be a missionary unless she is married, and the seemingly arrogant missionary Eli finds himself in the same situation. Each need the other, much to their dismay. They marry so that they can serve on the mission field, and the sparks begin to fly! I love the banter back and forth, as well as the draw each of them has toward the other. Well written!! The book painted such a practical picture of what life on the mission field would have been like at that time and in that area. I got a glimpse into difficulties that I'd never considered. The story was humorous, touching, romantic, sad....all the things you'd want in a good book. However, after the long, hot and cold relationship between these two people, I was disappointed in the conclusion. After reading hundreds of pages, all of a sudden it resolves in about two paragraphs. Not enough for me. When I read the personal pages from the author after finishing the story, I found that this was based on real people. Perhaps the author felt that she needed to be extra sensitive regarding the resolution of their relationship, out of respect. I understand that, but it was still disappointing to me. Other than that, I thought the book was engrossing and thoroughly enjoyable.
This book wasn’t what I expected. I knew it was about a marriage of convenience between two people who wanted to establish a mission among native Americans in the early 1800’s, but I thought it would tell about them establishing the mission. Instead, it’s the story of their journey from New York to Oregon, first by ship, then by wagon, to establish the mission. It’s the story of how they learn to care for one another through all the hardship they endure along the way. It’s also the story of how they learn to overcome their own ideas and recognize their own weaknesses, so they can more fully rely on and submit to God.
I liked this book.
After the conclusion, Jody Hedlund explains that the book is based, pretty extensively, on the true story of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman—and their travelling companions. Narcissa and one of those companions, Eliza Spalding, were the first white women to cross the Continental Divide and travel to the West. They did this in 1836. Hedlund used Narcissa’s journals as the primary source for this book, "The Doctor’s Lady."
If you enjoy historical fiction (in this case, mostly truth) with subtle, but powerful, messages about trusting in God and building a strong marriage, I recommend this book. I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this review.
Love Jody Hedlund's writing! The Doctor's Lady is based on the real-life characters of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman although the author has changed the names. Whew! I was hooked by the first page. Not only is the writing style and pacing superb the chemistry between the main two characters is riveting and tingling. Give me a man like Eli please! I also have so much respect for those Oregon Trail pioneers. They had to give up and endure so much. Some to go to new lands, but others like the Whitmans to be missionaries. I would hope that if I were ever called to a foreign mission field that I would be able to have the dedication and grace that these two had.
Priscilla White knows she'll never be a wife or mother and feels God's call to the mission field in India. Dr. Eli Ernest is back from Oregon Country only long enough to raise awareness of missions to the natives before heading out West once more. But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field.
Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs. Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God's leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.
The Doctor’s Lady is the first novel by Judy Hedlund that I have read, and it certainly will not be the last. Her writing draws the reader into the story and her descriptions allow the reader to picture the scenes with each turn of the page.
I immediately fell in love with Priscilla and Eli, and I felt that I already knew Eli, and in fact, I did! Eli’s character is based on Marcus Whitman, and I had met him in a story I read to my children about the first wagon train to travel the Oregon Trail. (Priscilla’s Character is based on Marcus wife, Narcissa.)
Reading this story I watched the character’s as their endurance was tested time and again. Leaving loved one’s behind, knowing that they most likely would never see them again. The fears they faced, and conquered, as well as the physical endurance: the tiredness, the aches and pains, illness, and loss. They endured and were strengthened. Their faith also was tested, but with each trial, it was also strengthened.
I highly recommend this book, but if you have a teen that is interested in reading The Doctor’s Lady, please read it yourself first, because there are a few violent scenes and themes centered around marriage issues that you may not want your teen to be exposed to yet.
About the Author:
Jody Hedlund is a debut historical romance novelist who was a double finalist in the 2009 ACFW Genesis Contest in Historical Romance. She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in central Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. Visit her website at JodyHedlund.com.
**The Doctor’s Lady by Jody Hedlund was provided for me free by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
I really loved the beginning half of the novel, but towards the end it really slowed down for me. I didn't feel like the romance was developing enough. And so much happened, it seemed to hop from event to even really quickly.
I enjoyed the start of the book very much, before they started their journey west. Priscilla was downright unlikeable, but I really liked the author's choice to portray her this way. She was so sheltered and close-minded at the beginning, we were really able to appreciate her growth so much more.
I really appreciated the fact that the story was based on the true story of a real life heroine. I was glad the author showed us a little of the real doctor's wife's story in the author's note at the end. Ironically, some of the stranger plots from the story were ones based on true events!
Overall, I think this will appeal to fans of American pioneer stories as well as fans of sweet romance.
book sent by publisher in exchange for honest review
Jody Hedlund emerged last year with the riveting and emotional novel, The Preacher's Bride. Her newest book, The Doctor's Lady, is infused with the historical detail, excitement, and depth that made The Preacher's Bride such a memorable read. Hedlund has a remarkable talent of integrating true stories with elements of fiction to embellish the plot. The Author's Note at the end of the novel added extra substance to an already poignant story. Priscilla's journey as the first white woman to travel West is not just a fanciful musing of an author's imagination; it is based on actual events from the diary of Narcissa Whitman. - The first 90 pages of The Doctor's Lady are set on the east coast and focus on the preparations for the journey West. Once Priscilla, Eli, and their travel companions begin their trek, the plot picks up speed and reveals unexpected dangers, challenges, and blessings. It is very easy to romanticize the past and the life of the brave pioneers who ventured into uncharted territory. Hedlund reminds readers of the hardships that Westward travelers faced, without creating a plot that is too sad or heavy. The marriage-of-convenience concept is common in historical fiction novels, but the setting of The Doctor's Lady offer a fresh background. Watching the restrained love develop between Priscilla and Eli enhance the plot with just the right amount of romance. - After several long and arduous months, Priscilla's and Eli's journey ends. During the novel they each grow individually and as a couple, risking their lives to follow their calling. From the first page to the very last page, The Doctor's Lady is a finely crafted novel. The last two pages in particular showed Priscilla's growth from a sheltered and idealistic woman to a stronger, more open-minded woman. The conclusion is fully satisfying, tying up the story contained within the pages of the novel, while connecting it with the events mentioned in the Author's Note. - I highly recommend both The Doctor's Lady and The Preacher's Bride, especially for fans of historical fiction. I will wait with anticipation for Jody Hedlund's next novel! - I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” -