The digging of the Moffat Tunnel provided catastrophe, graft, and humor. Accidents and weather made each day a fresh experience. This active and human story mixes in just the right amount of cynicism to make it believable.
Doctor Susan Anderson was a rare women, indeed: a female frontier doctor who searched for health, success and romance in the wild western lands of the Colorado Rockies. Her true experiences are recounted by Cornell, who met the elderly Doc Susie when Cornell was a young girl. Three years of research have contributed to a biography which reads like an adventure novel. -- Diane Donovan, The Bookwatch
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In 1943, after reading about her in Pic Magazine, Ethel Barrymore wrote to Susan Anderson and offered to buy the dramatic rights to her life. "Doc Susie," then 73, responded "Fiddlesticks." Ethel Barrymore had good instincts: Doc Susie's life was dramatic. Virginia Cornell's straightforward, accessible biography begins in 1907 when Susan Anderson, already a practising physician, is dying of tuberculosis at the age of thirty-seven. She takes a death-defying train ride to the tiny, isolated high-altitude town of Fraser, Colorado, where she cures herself, then stays on for the next fifty-one years to treat the resident population of loggers, farmers, railroad personnel, and tunnel diggers. An opinionated woman, she is eager to lecture rural patients on the importance of vitamins, swing an axe at an illegal still, or tell off a farmer for treating his cows with more care than his pregnant wife. She refuses to use or prescribe any drugs, even painkillers. When telephones are installed, she tries one, then gets rid of it. She never buys a car; instead she hitches rides on horses, cars, and trains (sometimes on the cowcatcher if the ride is short). Virginia Cornell's years of research bring to life both Susan Anderson and her time, teaching the reader both about an independent, strong-willed woman and about the human cost of the logging and railroad industries that are integral to the history of the northwestern United States. -- For great reviews of books for girls, check out Let's Hear It for the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. -- From 500 Great Books by Women; review by Erica Bauermeister