4 out of 4 stars
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The Surgeon’s Wife by William Coles is a well-crafted novel that intertwines moral and ethical dilemmas with romance and suspense. Dr. Boudreaux is chief of surgery at a hospital in New Orleans. When he learns that his mentor and fellow surgeon, Dr. Otherson, is performing surgeries without the proper procedure and equipment training, Dr. Boudreaux is responsible for correcting this behavior and implementing new standards of care to prevent further adverse patient outcomes from these surgeries. Dr. Otherson does not take kindly to Dr. Boudreaux’s interference and the restrictions placed on his surgeries. To further add to the frustration between the two colleagues, Dr. Boudreaux becomes captivated by Dr. Otherson’s wife, Catherine, and the two begin having an affair. Troubled times ensue for both surgeons and both will have to navigate rough waters personally and professionally while they struggle to handle their disputes.
I would give this novel a 4 out of 4 stars. I thought it was a great length; the story was thoroughly presented without too much verbiage. My favorite aspect of the novel was the relatable moral and ethical healthcare dilemmas that Dr. Boudreaux found himself facing. As a nurse, I have witnessed and debated these ethical issues firsthand and can relate to how he struggles to do what is ethically right for the patients. I also enjoyed the banter and dialogue between the surgeons in their meetings. Again, I have witnessed these interactions between healthcare specialties firsthand and I found the dialogue in the novel very humorous. For example, while debating the next steps for Dr. Otherson’s restrictions, the surgeons demean each other’s specialty, and the dentist seemed to take the brunt of the slurs. I also thought that the novel’s ending was quite a surprise. Guessing what was going to happen next kept me turning the pages until I completed the whole novel in one sitting. The added drama with Catherine and Dr. Boudreax’s affair accessorized what could have been a very dull story of two colleagues disagreeing about the best way to practice medicine. I really like that this novel was written by a surgeon; it offers a unique insight into his perspectives on healthcare and helped give an accurate description of surgical procedures.
As I would give this novel a 4 out of 4 stars, there is not much that I disliked about the book. There is strong profanity throughout the novel; I would caution any reader who is offended by such language from reading this book. The affair between Dr. Boudreax and Catherine presented another moral dilemma for the reader to ponder and while I disagree with the affair, I can respect that some readers will be able to relate to Dr. Boudreaux and Catherine’s predicament and it offers another dimension to an already sticky relationship between colleagues. As doctors are often portrayed as “holier than thou”, it is nice to see a physician writer that shines his profession in a more personable light. There are a few typographical errors that I noticed but they did not detract from the story.
This novel will appeal to a variety of readers. Healthcare professionals will understand especially well the conversations about patient safety and the healthcare system’s business concerns. Unfortunately, what may be a great business model can often lead to adverse patient outcomes and this is a constant battle in healthcare. However, any adult reader would most likely enjoy Dr. Coles' work.
Once I started reading this novel I could not put it down and I believe that most readers will find themselves doing the same thing. I highly enjoyed Dr. Coles’ perspective on a controversial healthcare subject and his writing style. I hope that Dr. Coles continues his literary work.
The Surgeon's Wife
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