4 out of 4 stars
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McDowell by William H. Coles
We’ve been told time and time again, never to judge a book by its cover. This is sound advice as many things do not appear as they seem at first glance. I just had this experience with McDowell. This novel had a lot of buzz around it especially at Onlinebookclub.org (OBC). There were so many threads and conversation, with most centered on the titular character Hiram McDowell. I must admit, I waded in and shared my uninformed and biased opinion, as I was just starting on this read.
On getting into this read, my initial take, was that this novel should have been titled Hiram McDowell. In the opening pages, the character of Hiram McDowell was so pervasive that he seemed to own the book from the very first page. However, a few chapters in, a few connected story-lines begin to appear and Hiram’s own story receded a little. Though the story-line on Hiram McDowell was gripping, the subplots also raised the stakes higher. This made me realise the author was spinning a literary web.
This novel is divided into two parts; part one covers Hiram’s life as a successful surgeon and administrator, father, husband and eventually nominee for Health Secretary up to his fall. Part two covers his Hiram’s life as a fugitive and his attempts to adjust to this new status. It also follows the back story of Paige (a TV reporter on leave of absence), who wants to write a biography of Hiram and her attempts to track him down.
I felt there was a slight problem with this novel because of the large cast of characters, with some not even lasting more than a page. I had to change my mind on this, when a minor character that lasted a few pages in part one did something significant in part two. Even with the character still did not get more than a few interspersed pages in part two. I am forced to agree that Williams H. Coles is indeed a brilliant author and set this novel up properly. There is much to learn about various fields from medicine/surgery to administration; jazz and musical instruments; journalism, photography to publishing. Not forgetting mountain climbing and the outdoors of Nepal and a vast swathe of the USA.
This is a very good book, and it can/should be reread intermittently to appreciate the effort the author put into the crafting of this work. This is a special novel, which should resonate with the avid reader. I recommend this novel to serious book lovers and also those aspiring to be book lovers. I will give this novel a 4 out of 4 stars rating, which it fully deserves. The book is well-edited and contains no noticeable errors. This novel is a must reread.
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