Connie Hertzberg Mayo, the author of “The Sharp Edge of Mercy” has written an intriguing, captivating and thought provoking novel.The genres for this book are Historical Fiction and Medical Fiction. The timeline for this story is set in New York City in 1890. The New York Cancer Hospital is the setting for much of the story. The author describes her characters as complex, complicated, and controversial. Some of the topics discussed are cancer and medical procedures in 1890, and the division of wealthy and poor clients, and what is morally accepted at that time.
Lillian Dolan has always dreamed of being a nurse, but has to settle as a nurse’s assistant at The New York Cancer Hospital. Lillian is quite inquisitive, and finds it difficult to fit in. She does become friends with Jupiter, a young man of color, who works in the crematorium. (in the hospital) One of the doctors does notice Lillian, and becomes aware of her curious nature. Lillian has been given a warning not to get too personally involved with the patients. Lillian is kind and compassionate and has witnessed many things that go on in the hospital. Lillian has become more involved in medicine and care than an assistant nurse should be, and would like to be a full-fledged nurse, which takes time.
One of Lillian’s patients makes a difficult request of Lillian, one which can cause major consequences, Lillian is faced with quite a dilemma. What course of action will Lillian take?
Several of the characters in this story feel they should live their lives, with how their heart directs them. This is quite a memorable, controversial and thought-provoking novel, that I highly recommend for other readers.