4 out of 4 stars
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Hiram McDowell’s life is complicated; he starts out as a successful ophthalmological surgeon, before his life takes a turn for the worse. McDowell by William H. Coles is the story of how the athletic father of 3 with a prestigious position as president of the International College of Surgeons gets trapped in a family situation and is forced to take on various new identities to elude capture.
Hiram has a passion for Himalayan mountain climbing. He develops a hospital in Nepal to serve the local community, but also to be able to climb several times a year and have the travel expense taken care of by the hospital donors. He is unhappily married to Carole, his third wife. He also has a mistress in Nepal. His oldest daughter, Ann, is married and has two children, Penny and Jeremy; Jeremy is a disturbed, rebellious boy who has been expelled from the third grade twice and is nothing but trouble. Ann’s husband, Robert is no help in dealing with Jeremy’s issues. Sophie is Hiram’s middle child; she is very interested in documenting the plight of women around the world. Hiram ends up funding a project for her to travel to the Far East, including Nepal, for her next project. Billie is Hiram’s youngest and he accompanies Sophie on her work abroad.
Paige Sterling is a journalist and friend of Sophie’s who is initially in charge of a film special on Hiram McDowell. She is conflicted in depicting the unseemly side of Hiram while outward appearances are that he is a generous, prestigious surgeon. He is in line for the position of US Secretary of Health and Human Services, so nothing politically damaging can be revealed. She travels to Nepal to see first-hand the work he is doing there.
Once life events put Hiram into hiding, he travels the US and meets interesting characters along the way, posing as a handyman, street harmonica performer, and caregiver while working on his memoir. Paige acquires the memoir, and interviews his new friends. She incorporates it in to her biography she is writing of Hiram. She depicts him as a formerly successful surgeon who is enlightened to make a new start with new insight and possibilities.
I enjoyed the variety of characters and locales throughout the book. Hiram interacts with many work colleagues, family, and then strangers who become friends in the second half of the book.
There is something for just about everyone included in McDowell. I would recommend this book to all readers. There was nothing I disliked about it.
Hiram’s youngest son Billie is seduced by Tasha, Carole’s daughter. This scene is somewhat descriptive and may not be appropriate for younger readers.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The author’s style is very fast and easy to read. The editing was very good.
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