Can you imagine wanting to minister to the west coast Native Americans so badly that you would marry a man you hardly knew and make a torturous seven-month journey from New York to Oregon?
In 1836, Priscilla White and Ernest Eli wed merely to meet the requirements of their mission board. A precarious trip by sleigh, riverboat, and overland covered wagon to build a mission clinic for the Nez Perce tests their endurance. Unprepared for the challenges ahead, they face illness, deprivation, hostile tribes, and uncertainty. Not willing to be underestimated, Priscilla is bent on disproving Eli’s belief that she is weak because of her slim figure and beauty.
Tension between Eli and Priscilla is aptly set up early on. We are immediately drawn into their relationship. We wonder if these people will move beyond a marriage of convenience and be happy. The descriptive narrative puts us right on the scene and moves us through the adventure like a strong current. Well-crafted dialogue leads to absorbing characterization. Fiction and historical fact weave together in this book. We are taught while we are entertained. Determined Priscilla is an uplifting heroine. Enigmatic and haunted by demons from the past, Eli is full of integrity and seems the more complex, interesting character. Although he craves Priscilla’s smiles, he is afraid of allowing himself the pleasure of them.
Don’t miss the Author’s Note, which highlights Narcissa Whitman, upon whom the book is based. Hedlund scoured Whitman’s diaries for first-hand information about ministering to the Nez Perce. Hedlund seems to be carving out her own niche-writing engrossing novels based on little-known historical American women.
The Doctor’s Lady is a full of gripping adventure, romance, and the desire to obey God’s will. Another successful historical romance by Jody Hedlund has hit the bookshelves. Highly recommended.
Bethany House Publishers graciously provided the review copy for my unbiased opinion.
Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont