The Unlocked Path
Barnes & Noble
Published by: Black Rose Writing
Release Date: August 25, 2022
Meet a “New Woman” of the 20th century: educated, career-minded, independent Eliza Pearson Edwards. In 1897 Philadelphia, after witnessing her aunt's suicide, Eliza rejects her mother’s wishes for a society debut, and at a time when five percent of doctors are female, she enters a woman’s medical college. With the support of a circle of women and driven by a determination to conquer curriculum demands, battle sexism, and overcome doubts, Eliza charts her new life path. Combining science and sympathy, she triumphs to heal others and herself.
Organic Chemistry may slay her, if the strain of endless study, odoriferous labs, and gruesome surgeries don’t claim her first. As a young intern, she summons a forthright confidence asserting her abilities to those mistrustful of a woman doctor. Through her work with poverty-stricken patients, she defines her version of suffrage work to champion women’s rights for and beyond the right to vote. Love is found, love is lost. During a visit to the fairy-tale-like city of Newport, a new relationship may fulfill her desires. When global events devolve into chaos with the 1918 influenza pandemic and a world war, Eliza renews her vow to help and heal.
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"Eliza, a young woman in turn of the century Philadelphia, faces a life-changing choice. Her mother’s path: a debutante ball followed by marriage, children, and acceptance into Main Line society, a career in law or charity like her spinster aunts, or the most difficult path, attend the Women’s Medical School her grandfather had helped establish. Choosing medicine, Eliza embarks on a stunning career mostly focused on women’s health, at a time when only five percent of doctors were women. From tending to victims of botched abortions to soldiers dying from the Spanish flu, Eliza sees the best and worst of humanity, but never falters from her mission to limit suffering and save lives.
It’s a story of the ties of family, and friends and colleagues who become family. It’s about love and loss, and the eternal struggle to live one’s best life. Fans of literary medical historical fiction such as Abraham Verghese’s Cutting For Stone or The Girl In His Shadow by Audrey Blake will enjoy the rich period detail and emotional impact of The Unlocked Path."
–Tracey Enerson Wood, Author of International Best Seller The Engineer’s Wife
"A young woman defies societal norms in her personal life and career in Daly’s debut historical novel set in 1897 Philadelphia.
Eighteen-year-old Eliza Edwards comes from a family of passionate dreamers. She sees her aunts Estelle, Florence, and Josephine—in their respective careers as a stenographer, art teacher, and secretary and board trustee—as role models and struggles to accept a seemingly fated future as a housewife and mother as her debut in society approaches. After a field trip with Josephine to the library at the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, Eliza meets medical student Anandi Gopal Joshi and finds the missing piece in her heart: 'The students at Woman’s Med. have forged their own paths. I wish to do the same.' After completing med school, Eliza accepts a position at the West Philadelphia Hospital alongside Dr. Patrick Callaghan, her former professor. As love blooms between them, Eliza balances her responsibilities to her career and to her family. After a devastating event, she takes a trip to Boston to visit her brothers and their loved ones and finds that a new life awaits her there. She must make difficult choices as she fights for her family, her vocation, and her lifelong dreams. Daly presents a well-researched story that weaves the fictional details of Eliza’s life with major, real-life historical events. Her careful crafting of each character, and her detailed, old-fashioned setting of each scene, encourages readers to root themselves in the moment, and as a result, they’ll feel emotionally invested in the protagonist’s every sadness and joy. Daly also develops Eliza’s family ties and shows her passion for social change through her career choices and her opinions, which have a strong feminist element. It results in a work that effectively showcases the power of love, friendship, and faith—both in one’s calling and in oneself—to create change in the world. An often-riveting fictional testament of a doctor’s life at the turn of the 20th century."
"In The Unlocked Path, Janis Robinson Daly movingly depicts the monumental struggles early women physicians faced, and the much-needed niche they filled. Meticulously researching a fascinating era in our history and creating an engaging narrator to guide us through it, Janis Robinson Daly has delivered a winner."
–Sally Cabot Gunning, Author of The Widow’s War and Painting the Light
"The Unlocked Path follows the extraordinary life of a courageous woman, Eliza Pearson Edwards. Based on Janis Daly’s exhaustive research into the country’s first women doctors, historical events of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and her own ancestral lineage, the reader is treated to Eliza’s eventful life story. From a wide-eyed girl declining her social debut, through her grueling training as a rare female medical student, to life as a vital doctor to women in need, Eliza’s personal and professional journey is both unique and yet consistent with the tenor of the times. Daly’s care in telling a story bursting with historical detail is evident in every page."
–Juliette Fay, USA Today bestselling author of The Tumbling Turner Sisters and the recent highly acclaimed, Catch Us When We Fall
"A story of resilience, empowerment, and coming of age. I felt an indescribable connection to this young woman physician, not just in name, but because her journey and discovery of “the why” echoes a story that we all carry in our hearts. Great historical fiction is timeless."
–Eliza Lo Chin, MD, MPH, Executive Director, American Medical Women's Association and editor, This Side of Doctoring: Reflections from Women in Medicine
"Eliza Edwards chooses an unconventional path. Choosing to ignore high society and commit herself to medical school, she must possess an unwavering belief in herself. She decides that to succeed, she must change the system. Eliza will win you over with her quiet strength and kind heart."
–Kerry Chaput, Amazon Best-Selling Author of Daughter of the King