Day 34: Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto

Cover to Your Presence is Requested at SuvantoYour Presence Is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman is an unusual and disturbing novel about the events at a hospital in Finland at the turn of the century. Sunny Taylor is an American who begins a new job as a nurse for a ward of mostly American women. These women, the wives of men in the timber industry, come regularly for treatment even though most of them are probably not really ill. The atmosphere of the ward is more one of pampering than of being treated for serious illness.

While telling of seemingly innocuous everyday incidents, the book develops a feeling of darkness and uneasiness, increased by the bleak setting of the isolated hospital.

A new doctor, Peter Weber, takes over the hospital with a plan to change the ward to a maternity ward for local women. An older, troublesome woman named Julia Dey is in his sights. Sunny begins to understand that Dr. Weber wants to teach the Finnish doctors a new uterine stitch for birth problems by having them practice on the older women who are receiving hysterectomies.

Something happens, and although Sunny thinks she remembers the day of the events, she somehow doubts her memory of what happened or who might have been involved.

The novel is an attempt at a sort of Victorian Gothic. It is certainly atmospheric, but some readers may find it rather slow-going, as it takes awhile for anything definite to happen.

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