The Doctor’s Daughter is a compelling read. At first, I thought it would focus largely on Marta’s dysfunctional relationship with her misogynistic father, renowned psychiatrist Arnold Rosenblit, but slowly came to realize that there was much more to this well-crafted story.
I was intrigued by Dr. Rosenblit’s studies:
“Tonight we shall examine the topic of gender. New research has come out of America that suggests one’s gender identity may not be an issue of biology alone, but psychology too. I am eager to establish my own study and measure the perception of gender against the imposition of societal norms.” He goes on to say, “…what if gender is little more than social phenomenon?” And, “What if our sexed bodies are not as essential to our construction of gender roles as we might believe?”
However, Rosenblit’s arrogance and disrespect towards Marta caused me to dislike him throughout most of the novel:
“You have a brilliant mind my daughter, of that I have no doubt. However, you are a disciple. You are not a leader. Women, even intelligent ones, are not destined to lead…Perhaps your ideas are early manifestations of mental illness. Have you ever wondered if you are not in your right mind? Delusions of grandeur; yes that’s what they call it, or I suppose it could be megalomania.”
Marta, on the other hand, is a character that I was pulling for throughout. She’s plain in comparison to her sisters who’ve all been married off (sort of the outcast of the family), but she also possesses the intelligence to be deemed useful to her father. However, Marta has other plans–aspirations beyond being her father’s lackey. She dreams of making a name for herself in the world of psychology.
Enter Dr. Leopold Kaposi (a colleague of Dr. Rosenblit) and Elise Saloman, an aspiring pediatrician. Kaposi recognizes Marta’s intelligence and entices her to work with him, unbeknownst to her father. This is where the story takes a suspenseful turn. Does Kaposi have Marta’s best interests in mind? Or does he have ulterior motives? With the help of Elise, whose interest in befriending Marta is unknown until near the end of the story, Marta is faced with several tragic and life-changing realizations.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Doctor’s Daughter and look forward to reading more from Matthews.
Thank you to Vanessa Matthews for providing me with a complimentary copy of this novel.