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Janis Robinson Daly Book Lover—Researching Them, Writing Them, Reading Them. Inspired by genealogy research where I learned an ancestor helped found the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1850, I discovered the stories of early graduates of the school. Realizing those women’s stories have lingered in the shadows, I wanted to bring them forward by writing The Unlocked Path, my debut historical fiction. Published in August 2022 from Black Rose Writing, book clubs have embraced the story, celebrated the characters, and discussed many topics around women’s health and women’s rights to advance choices in their lives.
The Unlocked Path: In 1897 Philadelphia, after witnessing her aunt’s suicide, Eliza Edwards rejects her mother’s wishes for a society debut, and at a time when only 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. When global events devolve into chaos with the 1918 influenza pandemic and a world war, Eliza renews her vow to help and heal.
I graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Wheaton College, at the time, an all-women’s college. At Wheaton, I developed a fond appreciation of the supportive relationships established between students, faculty, and alumnae and a heightened awareness of female-centric issues. Both directed my writing of The Unlocked Path. Splitting my time between Cape Cod, New Hampshire and Florida gives me great flexibility to schedule in-person and Zoom meetings with book clubs near and far from my current address at any given time.
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