For our November FYA Book Club pick, we’re headed to the mean streets of Edinburgh in 1817 with Dana Schwartz’s Anatomy: A Love Story. Hazel is desperate to be a doctor in a time when women doctor’s were unheard of. In order to pass her medical exam, she pays a resurrection man to bring her corpses to practice on, but when living people begin going missing around Edinburgh, Hazel starts to wonder if something more nefarious than body snatching is going on. Before you jump into these discussion questions, beware of spoilers!
This book contains some gore including surgeries, blood, and historical medical practices.
Did you ever have a career dream that felt more like a fantasy than something that could really happen?
1. Between the dissections Hazel attends, the medicine she practices at home, and the newsy excerpts between chapters, this book features a lot of 19th century medicine, and Schwartz doesn’t hold back from writing squeamish details. Did you find this interesting or did it make you queasy, or both? What did you think of Schwartz’s world-building overall?
2. Hazel was reluctant to let go of her engagement to her cousin Bernard, because being a viscountess would guarantee her a comfortable life, even if it meant she couldn’t be a proper doctor. Did you understand her reluctance, or did you want Bernard to get stuffed? What would you have done?
3. Jack is what was known as a “Resurrection Man” – a fancy term for body snatcher – who was paid by doctors to dig up fresh graves and bring them corpses to practice medicine on. Did this affect the way you felt about Jack?
4. What did you think of the romance between Hazel and Jack? Do you think Anatomy: A Love Story refers to their romance, or Hazel’s love of medicine?
5. Hazel doesn’t hesitate to hire Jack to bring her corpses, so that she could pass Dr. Beecham’s exam. If the villains of the story are stealing parts and organs from people off the street, is Hazel any more in the “right” if she is stealing corpses?
6. In the end, it’s revealed that Dr. Beecham had uncovered the secret to immortality, which gave the book a magical twist – what did you think of this turn the story took?
7. Do you think Hazel should have taken the immortality serum? If you were Hazel, would you have taken it?
8. What did you think of that ending? Do you think Jack is alive and he and Hazel will be reunited? Do you plan to read the sequel, Immortality: A Love Story, which releases in February?