Coal miners’ doctor: Review of Skip Rock Shallows by Jan Watson

Lilly Corbett isn’t what the folks of Skip Rock, Kentucky expected when they heard a new doctor was coming to town — she was a woman. In an age (the early 1900s) when women doctors were rare, Dr. Lilly Corbett has her work cut out for her in the small mountain town.

In Skip Rock Shallows, author Jan Watson takes us into the close-knit, often close-minded, community of a mining town. Lilly not only has to practice medicine, she has to work at being accepted by the people. Lilly is sent to Skip Rock for a short stint before she gets married to a fellow doctor and moves to Boston. As she serves and saves the residents of Skip Rock, she finds herself in a dilemma: to stay or go.

The familiarity of one of the coal miners makes Lilly’s decision that much harder.

Watson gives us plenty of drama in the book, a trait common to most mining towns, I’d expect. Accidents, injuries and death are part of the risk of mining. I enjoyed Lilly’s tale.

FAVORITES: The setting was so unique among other historical fiction I’ve read that I was hooked. And that Lilly is a female practicing medicine in a time when that wasn’t the norm is intriguing. I liked Lilly and the way she approached the twists and turns of her life.

FAULTS: A couple of the turning points in the story seemed to come without much personal strife in the characters. I felt the buildup was a little lacking. And the first part of the book was a little slow as Lilly did her rounds in the community and started to get to know people.

IN A WORD: Enjoyable.

NEED MORE? Check out the first chapter here. And find out more about the author here.

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