4 out of 4 stars
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It was an honor and privilege to write this review for the novel, McDowell. The author, William H. Coles, is a literary genius who created a dramatic story about a surgeon’s adventures through a tumultuous life. The book was very believable, especially considering the author’s background of ophthalmic surgery. He allowed the reader to experience the main character, Hiram McDowell’s, vulnerable life ridden with constant decision-making and significant trials accompanying such a prominent profession.
McDowell is enjoyable and comes highly recommended, particularly to the reader who struggles with a distorted self-image and empathy. Consequently, it gained a four out of four rating. The flow of the book made for an easy read, especially when the beginning of the chapters revealed some pointed script of what was to come.
In the book, the surgeon, Hiram, showed the reader his rise to the top while exposing his questionable morals and character. After the betrayal of his colleagues and friends, there followed a quick downturn in his personal and professional life. His character flaws finally came to a head with a family tragedy that led to imprisonment. After a brief time, Hiram managed to escape, and while on the run, his life took a drastic turn. During this escape, he realized, through soul-searching and in writing his biography along the way, his heinous acts and lack of empathy. Hiram’s journey progressed into deep self-awareness and an alternative way of thinking regarding those on the receiving end of his actions.
From the beginning, the reader gained insight into Hiram’s real character when the story started with his decision to leave his friend to die during a treacherous climbing expedition in the Himalayas. His deceitful nature continued to be exposed throughout the story. Some of his deceit included: using women for personal gain, never acknowledging the truth about himself, a lack of caring, no admission of wrongdoing while concealing waves of overwhelming anger.
The most significant part of Hiram’s life was when, on the run, circumstances led into a series of events that would forever turn his heart around. To start, he realized self-obsession would not be to his advantage in his present plight. He finally accepted help/teachings from unsuspecting people along the way, which led to empathy and personal insight. It almost seemed as though the numerous intimate encounters were angelic. The people involved knew just what to say and do while protecting Hiram on his journey. In one particular section of the book, he became close to an unpretentious woman, Maud, who poignantly stated, “I don’t hanker to take advantage of folks like you. Folks walking in the wrong direction in life.” Yes, Hiram had finally, though fleeing from authorities, built healthy relationships by gleaning, learning, and writing about the places and people entangled in his encounters.
Consequently, after his demise, through his completed biography, there was a great healing for family, friends, and acquaintances of the prominent surgeon. He gave them much-awaited revelations of his inner soul with the awakening of new ways to visualize things. Finally, he was “walking in the right direction in life,” as Maud would say. Hiram was one of few who was able to capture his trials and tribulations, which led to the essence of his existence and the ability to share it with others.
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