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On one level, this is an eminently readable 19th-century novel (published in 1882) about one of the first women to practice medicine in New England, who, after a long courtship/battle with a patient, has to decide whether to marry the man. On another, the novel documents the social history and ideology of middle-class women in the United States seeking both professional work and traditional marriage. Lie Phelp's other novels, this one is entertaining and consciousness-raising about both class and gender. Phelp's commitment to the women's movement and her ability to dramatize its idealogy are reflected in the sex-role reversals of the novel: the heroine is a rational, rural Maine physician; the hero, an emotional Boston nonpracticing lawyer.